Bradie James has adapted to situations throughout his nine-year NFL career. He was a back-up linebacker and special teams player early in his career with the Cowboys, lost weight to play in Wade Phillips' scheme in Dallas and now he is expected to bring experience and leadership to a Texans defense which lost two of its stars during the offseason -- DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams.
James, 31, signed with the Texans early in April after being let go by the Cowboys. He will compete with Daryl Sharpton for Ryans' old job as an inside linebacker in the Texans' defense. That should not be a huge adjustment for James since he's already familiar with Phillips' scheme and personality.
"Wade is kind of laid back but not too laid back," James said. "If you want to get Wade riled up just miss an assignment and he'll get after you. But Reggie (linebackers coach Reggie Herring) is the guy that is a spit on the side of your face type guy. He's just always on you like an old nagging woman. They complement each other.
"I had a tough time with Wade, too, when he first came to Dallas. I was coming from a Bill Parcells 3-4 which is totally different from what Wade runs. I was about 260 at that time and when Wade came in he said, 'Ooh, you're too big.' Now I feel we have some kind of rapport."
James had a very professional reaction to his split with the Cowboys, accepting it as part of life in the NFL.
"You have to be a big boy about certain decisions that are made," said James. "I enjoyed my time as a Cowboy and for me it's time for me to turn the page and start the next chapter. I want to go out with a bang and this is the best opportunity, the best team that gives me that chance."
With the Cowboys, James started every game from 2005-10 and 13 of 16 games last season. Durability is one of his assets. He is the only Cowboy ever to lead the team in tackles for six consecutive seasons and ranks as the team's sixth all-time leading tackler.
James now wants to bring that vast experience to the Texans.
"Experience and productivity, that's what I plan to bring," he said. "Really, my job is to come out here and help everybody take it to another level. And we want to do it together."
James is considered a good locker room presence with a good attitude. He did not complain when his role with the Cowboys decreased last season and considers himself a leader.
"Being in one place for nine years in today's game is kind of unheard of," James said. "To leave and go somewhere where you have familiar faces is awesome and it does play a big part in your decision."