James has been Texans’ rock all season

James has been Texans’ rock all season
January 4, 2013, 8:00 pm
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The linebacker position for the Texans has been decimated by injuries this season. From Brian Cushing to Darryl Sharpton to Brooks Reed, just about everyone has been hurt.

But through the whole season, there’s been one constant: Bradie James.

“He’s kind of been a rock,” head coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s been the one guy who has been consistent and been there all year long, even though I think he missed a game or two. It’s important that he’s out there.”

Sure, James missed one game this season. But just one. In fact, when he sat out with a hamstring injury against the Titans on Dec. 2, it broke his regular season streak of 153 straight games played.

He stood in the locker room with a smile in the week following that Tennessee game and happily declared nothing was going to keep him out the following week. James stayed true to his word and hasn’t missed a game since.

“He’s the one calling the defense,” Brooks Reed said. “He’s been the rock of our defense. If we didn’t have him, I couldn’t imagine where we would be.”

Well, with him, they're preparing for a playoff game against the Bengals on Saturday.

James has played next to Brian Cushing, who tore his ACL and is out for the season. He played next to Darryl Sharpton, who returned from the PUP list but was placed on the IR this week. He’s played next to Tim Dobbins, who has been banged up all season and was placed on the IR Friday. And, he’s played next to Barrett Ruud, who came into the season after it was already underway and will start on Saturday if Dobbins can’t play. James has been there next to all those guys, and those are just the interior linebackers.

“I was talking to somebody yesterday, I was trying to think of a time where a position group had as many dings and I don’t know if I could in all honesty,” Ruud said this week.

But aside from just being on the field, James has been a leader for the Texans’ defense. He has 77 tackles, which ranks him third on the team. He’s an NFL veteran and is the middle linebacker with the headset, calling the plays. It’s a position that warrants having a leader and James hasn’t disappointed.

The Texans likely brought James to Houston as much for his leadership as they did for his play on the field. This year, he replaced DeMeco Ryans, who spent his first six seasons in the NFL as a Texans and was the team’s captain and leader. Ryans was traded to Philadelphia and James was brought in as a free agent.

“He’s just like DeMeco in my mind,” Reed said. “Him and DeMeco are the same player in my eyes really. Last year, DeMeco was our team leader.

“Obviously, they have different personalities but at the end of the day, they’re both team leaders and they’re good at it. They inspire their guys to play harder.”

That’s a tall order, coming into a new locker room and taking over a leadership role. It’s even harder when considering that his new teammates looked at him as the guy who was replacing their captain in Ryans.

But leaders lead. And it didn’t take too long for James to prove himself to his teammates.

“You could just kind of tell when someone walks in the room about their demeanor and body language and how they talk to people,” Reed said. “You can just tell if they’re a leader or not. Obviously he’s been in the league for a while. He’s playing that position where you have to be talkative and have to be a leader.”

For the first nine years of his career, James was in Dallas, playing for the Cowboys. That’s where he became familiar with Wade Phillip’s defense. Philllips was, of course, the head coach in Dallas from 2007-10.

It was in Dallas where James not only learned the defense but learned how to be a leader. But he had only been in one NFL locker room and it’s not easy to make a move into a new situation and be the same person as before.

“I think (James has) changed a little bit,” rookie linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “He was already seen as a leader from the start but he’s gotten to know the guys on the team more personally. He’s been able to assert himself a little bit more and assert himself a little more.”

James has been one of the team’s leaders all season even though it’s his first in Houston. This week, J.J. Watt wanted the defense to get back to playing Texans’ football, which seems to suit James just fine.  

“For this team, he’s huge,” Mercilus said. “He’s kind of like our backbone, he keeps us sturdy.”

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