HOUSTON (CBS Houston)Bradie James would probably like nothing more to step into the Texans defense this upcoming season and prove to everyone – particularly the Dallas Cowboys – that he is still capable of playing linebacker at a high level similar to his 2008 Pro Bowl season.

But the wise veteran knows that isn’t what the Texans need from him.

James was picked up this offseason as a free agent for his leadership abilities and background with  Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. Certainly the Texans need him to be productive on the field, but his value to a defense that is looking to replace a couple big leaders will be more in the intangibles department.

The good thing is James seems comfortable with what his role is likely to be at the inside linebacker spot opposite Brian Cushing.

“Just experience and productivity, that’s what I plan to bring,” James said. “My job is coming out here and helping everybody take it to another level and we’ll do it together.”

The Texans have certainly made some sexier acquisitions through the draft but no newcomer may be more critical to the Texans success this upcoming season than James. He’s the perfect fit for what seemed to be a gaping hole once the Texans decided the price tag was too high to keep veteran leader DeMeco Ryans around to be essentially a first down linebacker.

As difficult as it might be to admit, James will be everything Ryans was in this defense and probably more. Where Ryans struggled some last season with the nuances of Phillips’ new defense, James will know what Phillips is thinking before he does because of familiarity in the scheme having called the defense during Phillips’ four years as head coach.

James spent four of his nine seasons in Dallas not just playing but starring in Phillips’ defense. James registered over 100 tackles and led the team in tackles in each of his seasons with Phillips and Reggie Herring.

He knows them and their defense. Phillips and Herring trust James in it.

So it only made sense to bring James here once the Cowboys decided to let him go after a dramatic drop off in production last season. James is not only back in a defense he knows but he is reunited with a defensive coaching staff that has shown a lot of faith in him over the years.

“It was a big influence because I’m very familiar with them, very familiar with the scheme. It’s good to know guys,” said James, who was drafted by the Cowboys out of LSU in 2003. “Being in one place for nine years in today’s game is kind of unheard of. To leave, and go somewhere where you still have some familiar faces, is awesome. It does play a big part in your decision.”

James will also be able to shed light into the way Phillips operates in a way the Texans players never seemed to quite figure out last season. They saw Phillips as much more laid back and subdued, leaving boisterous rhetoric to Herring and others.

“Wade is kind of laid back, but not too laid back,” James said. “If you want to get Wade riled up, miss an assignment and he’ll get after you. Reggie is the guy that is a spit on the side of your face type of guy. He’s just on you like an old nagging woman, but they complement each other.”

James will compete with third-year linebacker Darryl Sharpton and Tim Dobbins for playing time. But the end result will likely be much as it was last season prior to Sharpton suffering a season-ending leg injury. James will play the obvious running downs as Ryans did and Sharpton will be in for the nickel packages.

But with Sharpton still limited, James will likely split snaps with Dobbins when he joins his teammates next week OTAs at the Texans training facility.

“Obviously, Bradie’s been brought in here and Dobbins has been brought back,” said Texans coach Gary Kubiak, “so it’s going to be very competitive, not only from a playing situation but also a leader standpoint because that guy, we’re expecting to make the calls.”

James is ready no matter what his role is with the team this upcoming season. He just wants to make sure his presence is felt both on the field and in the locker room.

“It feels great to be here,” he said. “Being reunited with Wade is great, and Reggie. This is a great team.

“The opportunity is here for us to do some great things. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Contact Terrance Harris at terrancefharris@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris


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