Houston Texans veteran defensive end Antonio Smith said one of his roles is to share his Super Bowl experience, similar to when quarterback Kurt Warner took him under his wing in Arizona.
The Texans are a Super Bowl contender. Some say they're the team to beat in the AFC. The Texans, though, lack postseason experience. Houston has only playoff win in franchise history — a wild-card round game last season.
“Definitely,” said Smith, who played at Oklahoma State. “When we face any obstacle, or any adverse situation, whatever things I've seen, maybe I can help with whatever wisdom I have because of that run we had in Arizona.
“Sometimes you don't want to push too much. But that knowledge is good to have. Sometimes you're in a situation you've never been in before and a lack of knowledge will get you beat.”
Nicknamed “Scooby” the day he was born, Smith signed a five-year, $35 million deal with the Texans months after the Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII. The John Marshall product believes the Texans have a roster capable of capturing the Lombardi Trophy.
“As soon as I got here it resembled what we were on the verge of in Arizona,” Smith said. “It's just a matter of putting it all together. This year more than any year, if we can keep our guys healthy, this is going to be a hard team to beat.”
Keeping quarterback Matt Schaub healthy has been a challenge. But when Schaub is healthy Houston features two of the league's top weapons in running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson.
One key has been Wade Phillips, who was named Houston's defensive coordinator last season after going 34-22 as head coach in 3½ seasons in Dallas. Phillips' impact was immediate.
“I've never been around a coach like Wade,” Smith said. “I've never felt this good with a defense as far as the players, the system. He knows exactly what to do to put us in position to make plays. It's contagious. He's the ideal coach you want to play for.”
Houston is ranked second in overall defense, which is where the Texans finished last year.
“We finished No. 2 by less than 100 yards (around 5 yards a game),” Smith said. “The last game of the season, we took our starters out midway through the second quarter. We could have easily been the No. 1 defense statistically last year. We took pride in that.