Defensive ends Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes have a combined 23 seasons in the NFL.
The former Buffalo Bills are turning the page on their careers after spending the last two seasons with the AFC East club. As Addison and Hughes come to the Houston Texans, they are the old guys in the defensive line room at ages 34 and 33.
The Texans seemingly have a dominant edge rusher already in defensive end Jonathan Greenard, who tallied 8.0 sacks last season, the most since 2019 when outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus recorded 7.5.
Hughes and Addison have a goal in mind with the young Texans defensive line.
“Bring that sharp mentality to this team,” Hughes told reporters on June 1 after organized team activities at Houston Methodist Training Center. “We have got a very young defensive line, so myself as well as Mario Addison, we try to emphasize having that alpha male mentality up front. We dictate what the offense is going to do, not really settling for just being in our gaps. We want to be able to go out there and make plays, be around the ball, causing turnovers. We understand the importance of the ball.”
Takeaways are the chief tenet coach Lovie Smith preaches. As defensive coordinator for the Texans in 2021, Smith was able to get his unit to gather 25, tied with the Los Angeles Rams for the 10th-most in the NFL. The Texans were the only team with a losing record to rank in the top-10 in takeaways.
“Coach Smith talks about it every day during team meetings, so for us just being that game-changer, being that force on the field,” said Hughes. “I feel like that’s something my game has been about my whole 12 years throughout the league. So, just trying to show those guys that we can be a difference-maker on every down, really. If the offense is out there and we have four guys on the field, let’s just go out there and let’s hunt.”
Hughes and Addison had 18.5 sacks between the two of them during their Buffalo years. More importantly than getting sacks, the older veterans want to establish a mentality that translates to explosive defensive plays.