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Former Cardinals Making Noise

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Amobi Okoye has arrived in Houston, and as might be expected extremely high expectations have come along for the ride. The rookie defensive tackle has been trying to absorb everything he's being taught, especially from defensive line coach Jethro Franklin.

Lessons flew at the defensive tackle in his first week of Texans organized team activities last week. By the end of day three, Okoye, 19, was spouting the mantra of his position coach as if it was his own.

Franklin says everything he instructs and screams is done because "we want to take them where they can't take themselves."

Okoye believes it.

"Coach Franklin is a heck of a coach," Okoye said. "He's working with (senior defensive assistant Frank) Bush to make sure we are progressing. That's what they're here for. They are here to push you farther than you can go by yourself. And they are doing that."

Throughout the week, defensive end Mario Williams was first in line for drills. Okoye was on his heels.

While he's certain to be subjected to the same types of hazing rituals that all rookies are, Okoye says his new teammates have been extremely welcoming and helpful so far.

His teammates have reached out to him. The day of the draft, Williams called Okoye. The day after the draft, Williams learned Okoye's schedule.

And when Okoye had his first free minutes at his hotel, Williams showed up to visit.

"It means a lot," Okoye said of his teammates' support. "It means they are letting me know that they want to see me succeed, too. I commend the guys on this team, and I'm happy with the team I'm with.

"I don't think I could have gotten into a better situation. The guys here are so ... I don't know what word to describe it. I just feel comfortable."

I know none of them will ever admit it, but the fact that they were able to land one of the top defensive players in the '07 draft has to make many a man in the Texans' front office even more furious that they didn't take Reggie Bush or Vince Young last year. The silver lining in all of this is that even though the rest of their team might suck, a defensive line consisting of Okoye, Williams, Jason Babin, Anthony Maddox and Travis Johnson ought to be pretty dominating.

Another former Cardinal defensive standout hoping to make a splash at the next level is Pittsburgh Steelers draftee "Big Play" Willie Gay. Gay expressed to Theresa Varley of that he felt like he was coming into mini-camp with a bit of an advantage because of how much Mike Cassity mimicks some of Steelers defensive cooridinator Dick LeBeau's coverage packages.

"We tried to disguise our coverages and we always looked at Pittsburgh tapes," said Gay.  "They have the best ways to disguise their coverages. You get out there, and you don't know where they're coming from.  It's a very aggressive defense."

His early knowledge of the Steelers defense is something that his coaches definitely feel will be an advantage for him and were impressed when they talked to him about his role in that style of defense.

"They ran a couple of plays that we run, and I asked him what he did on a couple of those plays," said defensive backs coach Ray Horton. "He was able to explain exactly what he did and really what the other 10 men on the field did. That really just impressed me because not only can the kid play, but now I feel that he'll be able to come play a multitude of roles for us right away.

"I feel comfortable putting him on the inside, on the outside, and then possibly down the road, if the kid's tough enough--which I think he is--he can play a little bit of safety for us down the line."

One of these days Willie and Kerry Rhodes are
finally going to admit that they're the same person

Many in the organization have already noticed that Gay's mental approach to the game is a perfect fit for the historically rugged and intense Steelers defense.

Horton compared Gay to cornerback Deshea Townsend, especially from the mental standpoint, something that is a big compliment as Horton considers Townsend one of the most mentally sound players on defense.

"He's instinctual, aggressive and has very good hands," said Horton. "I think that he'll come in right away and compete for a third cornerback spot, a fourth cornerback spot and special teams. I think that this is a young Deshea that can come in and probably apply himself right away with his mental capacity to learn.

"I was very impressed with this young man as far as explaining his position and what the defensive linemen do on particular plays. So, I'm very excited about this young man."

The previously italicizedly (word) mentioned Kerry Rhodes is also making positive news this week, as he is hosting an event for at-risk students in the Bronx where he will offer encouraging words and toss the football around for a while.

"Catching with Kids" is one of Kerry's new initiatives through his RHODES foundation that provides direct mentoring in the form of discussion and skill building.

Kerry will "catch" up with the students verbally and play "catch" with the students physically in hopes that the combination of the two will allow the students to learn how to "catch" more opportunities in life.

The students will have the opportunity to take pictures, ask questions and listen to a successful individual who can relate to their struggles and serve as living proof that all dreams are achievable and that you can catch a break if you are prepared to receive it. Through endeavors such as this visit and his foundation, Kerry will be speaking with the third graders a 1pm and the forth graders at 2pm.

This school visit to the Bronx supports his foundations goals and is a very special visit to Kerry. We hope you will join in support of this effort as Kerry continues to have a positive, lasting impact on the lives of the members of his community.

Rhodes, who established The RHODES Foundation in 2006 to address the Reaffirming Hopes Of Dream Endearing Scholars living in America's impoverished neighborhoods, is quite the success story himself, making it out of extremely challenging circumstances to earn a degree from U of L and ultimately become a dominating NFL free safety who should have made the Pro Bowl last year.

As for Oakland Raider running back Michael Bush, he spent this past weekend in Los Angeles for the Reebok NFL Players Rookie Premiere, an event put on by EA Sports.

At the event, a select group of top NFL draft picks are invited to participate in a series of photo shoots where they wear their official league jersey for the first time and pose for shots taken by the top trading card companies.

You can check out Mike - wearing #43, which I'm still having a hard time getting used to - posing in the the following photos from Getty Images:

Yeah, so, JaMarcus Russell is enormous