How other Texans got through tough times

How other Texans got through tough times
October 9, 2013, 8:15 pm
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Schaub: 'I'm supremely confident in my abilities'

Last week, Matt Schaub agreed that he was in the toughest stretch of his 10-year NFL career. And that was before his latest game (two INT, one returned for a TD) against the 49ers.

Schaub maintains that his confidence hasn’t taken a hit but no one really knows. Head coach Gary Kubiak has said he’s somewhat worried about that but still decided Schaub will start in Week 6 against the Rams.

For Schaub, it’ll be a chance to break free from his toughest stretch as a football player. With that in mind, we wandered the Texans’ locker room on Wednesday to ask several of Schaub’s teammates about their roughest football moments and how they overcame them.

T.J. Yates, who would have started on Sunday if Schaub didn’t, immediately thought of his junior year at North Carolina.

“We were struggling offensively and on top of that, I wasn’t playing well, so I know exactly what (Schaub) is going through,” Yates said. “I had the home team booing me and that type of stuff. I’ve been through it. Just like it did that year, all that matters is what’s going on in the locker room and your teammates.

“You just have to keep plugging away. Stuff will eventually turn out well. Matt’s a good player. We have a good team. Things are gonna turn around.”

Left tackle Duane Brown has become a Pro Bowler, All-Pro and widely considered one of the best offensive linemen in football but it wasn’t always that way. He was drafted out of Virginia Tech by the Texans with the 26th-overall pick in 2008 and was immediately thrown into the fire.

“My rookie year was probably my most difficult moment,” he said. “Just starting at left tackle and not really being experienced and going against probably … I went against the Defensive Player of the Year (James Harrison) that year in my first game and went on to block a lot of very, very talented defensive ends.

“And I started to question my confidence and my abilities to play in this league. But the competitor in you rises up after a while and you realize that you’re here for a reason and you get the confidence of your peers behind you and it means everything in the world.”

The moment veteran linebacker Joe Mays selected wasn’t when he was a young player. In fact, it came last season as a member of the Denver Broncos. Before the beginning of last year, Mays signed a three-year deal with the Broncos and started the first four games of the season. But then, he was benched.

“Yeah … it was tough. It was just a tough pill to swallow,” Mays said. “Being benched, looking into your teammates’ eyes and knowing that you let them down, just trying to come back as best you can. I think the best thing I did was stay positive, show them that I was going to continue to work no matter what happened and that was all I can do.”

Mays was released after the season and signed with the Texans on a one-year deal. Things worked out for him. He’s now a starter on the No. 1 defense in the NFL. But how did he get through it at the time?  

“Just stay positive for the guys that’s going in, the guys that’s playing,” he said. “Although you’re not as big of a player on offense or defense, whatever the case was, you just have to always remain positive and show that you’re supporting the other guys.”

Running back Arian Foster didn’t name a specific difficult time but he did say the best way to deal with those moments.

“Stay as far away from media as possible,” Foster said. “Because it’s just noise, with all due respect. You guys have a story to write but that tends to mess with people’s psyche. And it kind of takes away from your ethos. So you just have to stay away from it as much as possible and get off all internet and don’t listen to any negative and go back to basics. You’re in the NFL for a reason. You don’t just get here because you’re not good. You just cut off all that noise and go to work.”

When nose tackle Earl Mitchell joined the league, he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to play his new position. Mitchell had to not only adjust to the NFL but had to figure out how to play nose tackle in the league.  

“I guess a little bit leery about transitioning to nose tackle,” said Mitchell, who said he leaned on the veterans on the defensive line. “Pretty much, I just wasn’t sure how well I would do.”

Fullback Greg Jones said he couldn’t really think of a time where he struggled for long enough to call it a slump. But he saw his team struggle plenty. In his last five seasons with the Jaguars, the team didn’t have a winning record.

“I’ve been in a couple man, where I’m coming from,” he said. “Only thing you can really do is concentrate on what you can control. Other than that, all you can do is get back to fundamentals, get back to football and there’s stuff you can’t control. You just have to concentrate on you and football and doing things right and hopefully everything will fall into place.”

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