By Adam Spolane

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- When the NFL lockout ended in July of 2011, then free agent corner back Johnathan Joseph spoke to Texans general manager over the phone and the two instantly connected.

“I just remember that phone call, first initial phone call we had to where we had like a 20-30 minute conversation just about life and just about different things,” Joseph recalled Monday, almost 24 hours after Smith announced he was taking an extended leave of absence from the Texans.

“He was speaking to me like a father figure. He knew it was going to be a big decision in my life to come here at the time, back in 2011. I kind of leaned on him and trusted him and its been no different since I’ve been here. He’s been a guy I can always go and talk to about anything. He’s like a father figure to me.”

Joseph just completed his seventh season with the Texans as did J.J. Watt, who made it clear, Smith and his wife Tiffany are in his thoughts.

“Thoughts are with him, obviously. It’s very difficult for somebody to have to go through that. I think a lot of us probably know in some way, shape or form someone that has been affected by something like that, so everyone understands and wishes him and her absolutely nothing but the best.”

After releasing the initial statement following the Texans season-ending loss in Indianapolis Sunday, Smith met with reporters at NRG Stadium Monday morning and informed them Tiffany was diagnosed with breast cancer in September.

“He’s been dealing with it for awhile,” Joseph said. “Anytime you have something like that it’s tough on you because you want to put your all on football, but at the same time you have a commitment to your family, your family comes first, and I have a family, so I understand that more than anything. It’s a tough situation for him.”

Smith was emotional at his Monday press conference, and it was obvious the news of his taking leave had an impact on the players he brought to the Texans.

“It’s sad just to see a guy who brought me here,” Lamar Miller said. “He’s always been a straightforward guy since I’ve been here, he’s always been real with me and just to see him step down and see the things that him and his family are going through is always tough.”

“He’s in my prayers, him and his wife, and his family,” D.J. Reader said. “Want to wish them the best in this upcoming process. I know they are going to fight and fight hard, and just (they’re) in my prayers, and praying for them.”