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Old 06-18-2010   #1
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Default Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

Thankful for his opportunity and trying to make the most of it.


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HOUSTON — Whether you look at them as baby steps or giant steps, it’s all the same to Malcolm Sheppard, who just keeps walking a straight path toward the NFL.

Sheppard, an undrafted free agent from Bainbridge who was a star at Arkansas, took another huge step this week. He didn’t just emerge from the Houston Texans’ mini-camp alive and well, he finished the camp with an invitation to team’s training camp that begins July 30, and had the coaches beaming about his progress.

“Probably the young kid who has surprised me the most through OTAs (organized team activty days) and everything has been this Sheppard kid that we got from Arkansas,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak told the media after the team’s final practice on Wednesday. “I’m not trying to put pressure on him or anything, but he’s been a very pleasant surprise.

Kubiak all but said he will give Sheppard every chance to make the team when training camp begins.

“I think he’s going to make a good push for this football team,’’ Kubiak said. “He’s played extremely hard, very physical, better athlete than we thought coming out. We thought he was going to get drafted but he didn’t, and we were lucky to get him.”


Sheppard, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle, was a force at Arkansas, where he had 24.5 tackles for losses, including nine sacks. He was twice named to the All-SEC second team defense, and arguably could have been an all conference player in just about any other conference in the nation.

Surprisingly, he went undrafted, but might have been picked if not for a nagging shoulder injury that affected his performance at the NFL combine.

“I had a slight shoulder tear,’’ Sheppard said. “It affected the way I ran and it affected my strength. I couldn’t train properly for the combine.’’

The day the draft ended, Sheppard’s phone started ringing with offers to sign as a free agent. He looked over the future and it took him less than a minute to choose Houston over the other offers because he felt he had the best chance with the Texans.


To say he has taken advantage of it is an understatement, but that’s in great part to Sheppard’s attitude, a bigger force than his pass rush.

”I feel like I’m a first round pick, because I got the opportunity to show what I can do,’’ Sheppard told The Herald in a phone interview on Thursday. “I take a humble approach. Some guys feel like they should have been drafted (and get down). Every guy in the world feels he should have been No. 1. But I just look at it as an opportunity. It doesn’t matter of you’re the No. 1 draft pick or a free agent, you still have to prove yourself. All you can ask for is the opportunity, and I just look at this opportunity as a blessing.’’

The Texans might have gotten one of the biggest steals out of the college crop.

“He has done a great job for us,’’ Texan general manager Rick Smith told the media this week in Houston. “What you look for is you look for some redeeming qualities, very similar to the latter part of the draft when you’re looking for… guys who have good football character and guys that have something about them that you like. He has shown flashes out here over the last few weeks that he is capable of playing in this league, and that’s exciting for him.”

Still, it’s one step at a time for Sheppard.

“I think I did pretty good. I got better every day, and that was my goal,’’ he said. “I don’t feel like I accomplished everything I wanted, but it was enough to be invited to training camp. The last couple of weeks I got a chance to work with the coaches and the players and learn a lot. It’s one step at a time. There’s the OTAs, the training camp, the preseason games — it’s one phase at a time.’’

He has heard the compliments and knows his name is being bounced around as a guy who could make the team, but Sheppard’s keeping both feet on the ground.

“When I hear that it just humbles me down even more,’’ he said. “It makes me want to work even harder. It doesn’t make me want to relax. It just give me more motivation to make the team.’’

Sheppard has always been an underdog. He didn’t play his ninth grade season at Bainbridge and was over looked by colleges coming out of high school. Houston Nutt, who was then the Arkansas coach, saw what should have been obvious: Sheppard is a powerful and fierce defensive lineman who creates havoc, a player who lives in the opponent’s backfield.

Now it’s just a matter of Sheppard proving himself all over again.

“It’s exciting,’’ said the ever-positive Sheppard, whose shoulder is now 100 percent. He doesn’t have to hold back anything. “It’s a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun. Every day I’m learning something new. I’m having a blast.’’

Sheppard is staying in Houston for another two weeks to work out with the strength coaches and run on his own, then he’ll come home to Bainbridge for about 10 days, then head back to Houston to work out on his own for another 10-12 days before training camp begins. He doesn’t mind the work or the grind. He relishes it.

“It kills your social life in a good way,’’ he said of his regimen. “You’re getting up every morning thinking about nothing but football. When you’re really focused on something that’s the way it is. You don’t have time for other things. You want to be 100 percent football.’’
It’s simply a matter of knowing what’s at stake.

“If you don’t take care of business, you’ll be going home,’’ he said. “There’s no time for slacking off. They can do without you if you don’t take care of business.

“The way I feel is that the good Lord has blessed me with an unbelievable opportunity just to be here,’’ he said. “It humbles me and makes me excited to be here every day I’m here, and makes me want to work that much harder every day.’’
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Old 06-18-2010   #2
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

You know your weak in a position when the UDFA feels they have a chance to make your roster in their position. Especially when the UDFA is highly sought after (as much as a UDFA can be ).
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Old 06-18-2010   #3
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

I'd really love to see this kid make the team...he's hungry to succeed while Okam is hungry for donuts.
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Old 06-18-2010   #4
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

More omens for Amobi.
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Old 06-18-2010   #5
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

I've been hearing a lot about this kid the past couple days. I'm already going to be watching the Mitch during camp. I reckon I'll be keeping an eye on Sheppard too? Imagine if 2 rookies make the final DT rotation.
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Old 06-18-2010   #6
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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Originally Posted by nero THE zero View Post
More omens for Amobi.
id be thinking theres alot more guys like okam, bulman, deljuan etc worried about these guys than amobi
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Old 06-18-2010   #7
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

Well, I need to go watch more Arkansas tape. I was expecting this guy to be cut, because like the Texans FO, I thought he had limited athleticism. The shoulder tear definitely would impact the combine and such.

This team's DT rotation could be really young. Mitchell, Sheppard, and Okoye are all rookie aged. Odds are one of them pans out.
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Old 06-18-2010   #8
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

I don't really understand why Okoye's age matters. He might be the same age as some rookies, but he's also had the benefit of 3 years of NFL training and coaching, and hasn't made anything of it. His age is pretty much irrelevent, unless you can explain to me what benefit a 3 year NFL veteran aged 26 has over a 3 year NFL veteran aged 23.
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Old 06-18-2010   #9
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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Originally Posted by nero THE zero View Post
I don't really understand why Okoye's age matters. He might be the same age as some rookies, but he's also had the benefit of 3 years of NFL training and coaching, and hasn't made anything of it. His age is pretty much irrelevent, unless you can explain to me what benefit a 3 year NFL veteran aged 26 has over a 3 year NFL veteran aged 23.
If it all clicks for him this year, then he is still young. Which is good, because the Texans can have him longer, barring injuries.
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Old 06-18-2010   #10
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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I don't really understand why Okoye's age matters. He might be the same age as some rookies, but he's also had the benefit of 3 years of NFL training and coaching, and hasn't made anything of it. His age is pretty much irrelevent, unless you can explain to me what benefit a 3 year NFL veteran aged 26 has over a 3 year NFL veteran aged 23.
Physically, males don't stop growing until about age 21. When we picked up Amobi, his body hadn't stopped changing. That alone can play havoc on any athlete. Imagine playing in the pros and you are still trying to adjust to a constantly changing body.

I found this link interesting for general info: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...4090736AAUWUnZ

CND would know more. I think that Amobi will be a beast this year.
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Old 06-18-2010   #11
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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“I’m not trying to put pressure on him or anything, but I am putting the pressure on Amobi Okoye and the rest of the DTs."
Fixed it for you guys.
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Old 06-18-2010   #12
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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Originally Posted by Wolfiegrrl View Post
Physically, males don't stop growing until about age 21. When we picked up Amobi, his body hadn't stopped changing. That alone can play havoc on any athlete. Imagine playing in the pros and you are still trying to adjust to a constantly changing body.

I found this link interesting for general info: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...4090736AAUWUnZ

CND would know more. I think that Amobi will be a beast this year.
So, it's your contention that Amobi has struggled the past two seasons because he has reached the age in which some men stop growing? I guess I fail to see the connection, even if that were true.
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Old 06-18-2010   #13
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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So, it's your contention that Amobi has struggled the past two seasons because he has reached the age in which some men stop growing? I guess I fail to see the connection, even if that were true.
Amobi played well last year. How can you fail to see the connection between not being fully physically mature and not being at max potential performance level? Seems pretty obvious.
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Old 06-18-2010   #14
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

I'll be really surprised if Sheppard supplants a starter in his rookie year. I think Frank Okam is as good as done though.
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Old 06-18-2010   #15
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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Amobi played well last year. How can you fail to see the connection between not being fully physically mature and not being at max potential performance level? Seems pretty obvious.
She said the age in which men stop growing is 21. He was 22 last year. Whatever that age may be, it's that age for some men.

Further, Amobi played at 300 lbs., heavier than he was his rookie season, and he played worse than his rookie season. So, I find any argument about physical maturation being the cause of his play weak.

He has NFL size, NFL training, and NFL coaching, I don't really see how it matters that he's 23 or 25.
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Old 06-18-2010   #16
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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Well, I need to go watch more Arkansas tape. I was expecting this guy to be cut, because like the Texans FO, I thought he had limited athleticism. The shoulder tear definitely would impact the combine and such.

This team's DT rotation could be really young. Mitchell, Sheppard, and Okoye are all rookie aged. Odds are one of them pans out.
You are reading him right. Kubes loves this kid's intensity and fire like he does Studdard. Sheppard will be a TC tool to push those assuming a roster spot. He might make the team but I'll be surprised.
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Old 06-18-2010   #17
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

Glad the guy is impressing, but want to see how a smallish DLman holds up with the pads on.
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Old 06-18-2010   #18
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

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You know your weak in a position when the UDFA feels they have a chance to make your roster in their position. Especially when the UDFA is highly sought after (as much as a UDFA can be ).
Yep, that's what I was thinking...
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Old 06-18-2010   #19
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

out DT situation is going to be extremely interesting this year thats for sure. between the new guys impressing & amobi at his best pass rush weight, we might finally see a bit more production there. just hope the run D continues to hold up
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Old 06-18-2010   #20
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Default Re: Texans impressed with Bainbridge’s Sheppard

The more competition the better. I hope Sheppard can supplant someone.

I guess Zgonina is finally gonna retire? Mitchell and Sheppard combined are about the same age... that's crazy to think about!!!
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