Texans' newest LB Joe Mays after Wednesday's practice
Joe Mays got into Houston on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday morning he was starting.
Mays, wearing the No. 53 that started camp on the back of Mike Mohamed, who switched to 49, participated in his first practice as a member of the Houston Texans at the Methodist Training Center on Wednesday.
During position drills, he worked next to the team’s defensive leader Brian Cushing. And Mays hopes it still looks that way when the season starts on Sept. 9.
“Well, I have an opportunity to fight (for a starting job),” Mays said after practice wrapped up just before 10 a.m. “That’s definitely one of the reasons I chose here, to come in, compete and try to start.”
And does he like his chances to win the starting MO linebacker job?
“Yeah, I like my chances,” he said. “If it’s open and it’s as open as they say it is, I think it is, I like my chances.”
On the Non-football Injury list, Darryl Sharpton (groin) could only watch from the sideline Wednesday as Mays began to slowly wrestle away his starting position.
Mays brings with him plenty of experience, having started 22 games in the NFL since being taken in the sixth round by the Eagles in 2008. He spent the last three seasons with the Denver Broncos, where he began last season as a starter. He then lost his starting gig and broke his leg playing special teams. The Broncos released him on July 23 to avoid paying his scheduled $4 million salary.
The Broncos switched back to a 4-3 defense before the 2011 season but Mays enjoyed playing in a 3-4 in 2010. He enjoyed it so much that the chance to play in a 3-4 again was one of the main reasons he chose to join the Texans.
“It’s just easy for the linebacker,” Mays said. “You play one gap and go downhill and make a play. And pass responsibilities is not hard at all either. As easy as I think it may be or I say it may be, I still have to go in and put the work in so I can pick up the playbook as fast as I can.”
Mays has already enjoying working with the Texans’ linebackers, who he said are “true professionals.” The 5-11 linebacker seemed impressed by the size of the defensive linemen on the team. He’s also not averse to playing special teams but enjoys the Texans’ defense.
“I love Coach Phillips, man,” Mays said. “He lets the players play. The defense is player friendly. The defense can go out there and attack and make plays and that’s definitely one of the reasons I came here.”
Mays is well-known by Texans fans for a vicious and illegal hit he delivered on starting quarterback Matt Schaub when the Texans played in Denver Week 3 last season. Mays was suspended one game and fined $50,000 for the hit. He later apologized to Schaub.
Schaub, on Monday, said the issue was completely over. “We’re past that,” said Schaub, who added that the issue was resolved when the teams left the field last Sept. 23.
“We talked, man. It’s over with,” said Mays, who added that his wife was hoping he didn't get jumped in the locker room. “I’m just glad to hear that everything’s OK. I just hope that the fans can accept me. I know how mad they were about it and believe me, I was too.”
Aside from Houston, Mays said Washington, Kansas City, San Diego and Oakland were also interested in him.
Mays worked with the first team in his first Texans practice. On Tuesday, linebackers coach Reggie Herring said the team would give Mays every opportunity to win the starting job. And they threw him into the mix right away on Wednesday morning.
“I’ve seen (Mays) play before,” veteran safety Danieal Manning said. “I know what type of player he is. It’s always different, difficult when you come in and try to learn a scheme this fast. Of course training camp, this is the season. If you want a good chance of competing, you need all the reps you can get.
“I think, for the most part, he’s been playing this game for a while and I think he’s going to make the adjustment well.”
Mays said the biggest adjustment playing in Houston will be the excessive heat and humidity. Mays is from Chicago, played college football in North Dakota and his two stops in the NFL have been Philadelphia and Denver. He said the heat is harder to get used to than the altitude in Denver.
“It went good. It went real good,” Mays said about his first practice. “Just glad to be back on the field. They’re kind of easing me in. I’m learning defense on the run.
“Right now, I’m just coming in, trying to compete. I’m competing to start and do whatever they ask me to do, whether it’s special teams, starting defense, whatever. Kind of do whatever I can do to help the team.”