Texans' Davis coming back strong -- as Williams

HOUSTON -- Domanick Davis appeared in Houston's locker room
Monday with a new haircut and a new attitude. But the biggest
change is in his name.

"I'm a new man," he said. "That was Domanick Davis that y'all
knew about. This is Domanick Williams that y'all looking at."

The Texans' franchise leading rusher, who spent this season on
the injured reserve with a knee problem, has legally changed his
last name from Davis to Williams, his mother's maiden name.

He said that Davis was the last name of the father of his older
brother and he never felt right about having his name.

"I had to do it and it was time. I didn't want my kids to grow
up carrying something else that I'm really not," said Williams,
the father of two young children. "I felt like it was the perfect
time for me to do it. Come back fresh, come back new."

He's also dumping the No. 37 jersey he's worn since arriving in
Houston in 2003 to wear No. 31, which was his number throughout
high school and college.

"So I'm coming back as a new person altogether," he said,
sporting a short shaven haircut, after wearing braids for much of
the last year. "It's going to be crazy, but I had to make my

Williams said he is feeling great and he can't wait to get back
on the field.

"I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent, but it's close," he said.
"It's on its way and it's going real good. My knee is allowing me
to lift heavy weight without swelling up and that was the biggest
problem I had."

The 26-year-old, who has 3,195 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns
in three NFL seasons, said it has been difficult to sit out for so

"I didn't watch not one game and it's not that I didn't care,
because I care," he said. "But it was my way of dealing with it
because it would hurt me in another kind of way. So I just focused
on what I had to do to get myself back."

"A new name, a new haircut, new clothes -- let's hope he has a
new knee," Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson joked upon hearing the

While Robinson's comments were in jest, the health of Williams
is a big question mark for the Texans as they prepare for next

Williams missed five games in 2005 before undergoing
arthroscopic knee surgery after his knee swelled and ached each
time he played. He returned for training camp and declared himself
healthy, but soon stopped practicing because of what coaches called
a bone bruise in his knee.

Houston placed him on the injured reserve just days before the
season, leaving a hole at the position. The Texans signed Ron Dayne
two days later, but it didn't immediately help the situation as the
1999 Heisman Trophy winner was still bothered by a toe injury.

The Texans resorted to a running back by committee system, with
rookie Wali Lundy, Samkon Gado and Dayne splitting carries. Dayne
was finally healthy near the end of the season and had the best
four-game stretch of his career, running for 429 yards and five
touchdowns in that span.

The emergence of Dayne and a healthy Williams coupled with Lundy
and Gado, will create a crowded backfield for the Texans and raises
questions about who will remain on the team. Williams is scheduled
to make $3.34 million next season in the third year of a five-year
deal. Dayne is an unrestricted free agent the Texans likely could
keep for much cheaper.

"I would definitely like to stay here," Dayne said. "I'm glad
they gave me the opportunity and chance to come play and show what
I can do."