HOUSTON -- In the past few weeks, the Houston Texans' special teams have improved tremendously.
"People who play special teams are usually seen as a little off," James said. "They’re a little off in the head. I would say that. I agree with that. You just gotta be a little bit off. If you're a gunner ... you’re going to get tripled at times when they’re playing for you. It’s really, you really have to have a dark mentality out there and just know I’m not going to let nobody stop me."
One of the loudest moments early in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans came when James downed a Shane Lechler punt at the Titans' 6-yard line.
"If you down a punt in the NFL it’s almost like a touchdown," James said. "Because you back them up. You down a punt at the 2-, 3-yard line, it changes field position. You back the offense up and then the defense is able to capitalize off that. They have the fans in their ear. You can get them into a safety position or they’re going to be punting out of their own end zone. You could block it or get a good return. There’s a lot of things you can capitalize (on)."
For James, learning special teams was a trial by fire while he was with the Giants.
"Will Hill was like, 'Look man, I’m going to tell you, line up there at gunner, it'll kick your ass, especially if you see two people,'" James recalls. "I was like, 'We’re going to see. I think I'm pretty tough.' My technique was a little off and I was fresh at it from a first time in a live game. I got hemmed up pretty bad."
But James having the personality he does, that first experience motivated him to figure it out.
"I don’t think that’ll ever get easy," James said. "Sometimes you bring out the starting corner and starting safety to be blocked and you know it’s hard. Running down on kickoff if you’re disruptive, they’re going to double you. They’re going to make sure they have people crack-block you.
"It’s dirty out there. Special teams, it takes a lot of toughness. You’re going to get knocked down. You have to keep fighting to keep playing."