They know it's always a popular storyline when a player returns for the first time to face his former team. With Mario Williams returning to play against the team that selected him first overall in the 2006 NFL draft at Reliant Stadium Sunday, those that know him best are still curious as to how he'll perform.
"He's coming back to the team that drafted him," said Texans running back Arian Foster. "It's going to be an emotional game for him so I'm pretty sure he wants to do well."
"These games, people make a big thing about these games and I was part of one when I first got here," said Williams' former teammate and close friend, Antonio Smith. "The one thing you don't account for is the control of all the different emotions you get in the game like this, coming back, playing against the team you used to be with, playing against guys that you're friends with.
"You can't really be mean and aggressive and do stuff that you normally would do. Sometimes you think you're going to come in and just dominate, but it doesn't always work like that. So I'm looking forward to seeing how he's going to respond."
Williams, is likely to be more concerned about how his left wrist is going to respond. Just eight days removed from a scope, Williams is expected to practice today, but was already encouraged about how much the function in his wrist has improved.
"They basically cleaned it out and gave me more range of motion already," Williams said. "Knowing it's going to give me an edge as far as getting back and it's just going to get me in a position to work out and use my other hand more adequately. Just being able to rebound in the second part of the season and get after it."
Letting Williams get after it is something Texans' right tackle Derek Newton would like to prevent on Sunday, especially when it comes to protecting his quarterback.
"Mario, he's all around," said Newton. "There's a lot about him. He's a great guy, strong, fast. There's so much he can bring to the table, so pretty much just got to be prepared for everything. You never know what to expect from him. Me, being a young player I'm pretty sure he's going to try all kinds of stuff and I've got to be ready for it."
"It's going to be tough," said Houston head coach Gary Kubiak. "He's getting all the attention every week. When you've got the reputation and the player that he is, that's how people attack you and stuff. It'll be a big problem for us too because he's playing both sides. (RT Derek) Newton will get him. (LT) Duane (Brown) will get him, but they're very talented up front."
Houston players are wondering what kind of reception Williams will get from Texans' fans on Sunday. Even though Williams hasn't been overly productive for the Bills through the first seven games, they're hopeful the fans choose not to boo him. They're concerned it will only serve to motivate Williams all the more.
"You don't want to tick off a 6'8" 300-pound man," said Smith. "He can do some damage. Most of the time when you hear the boos it does get you jacked up. All it takes then is for you to make one good play and could just have an explosion of energy."
Texans' head coach Gary Kubiak is trying to keep his offensive tackles focused on what they have to do with respect to technique and assignments and not what Williams is capable of on any given play. Despite Williams' slow start in Buffalo there's still a healthy respect for Williams in Houston.
"He's a great kid. He's a great player," Kubiak said. "I know one thing; he's going to come in here and play well. I can tell you that. Our football team knows that so we just got to prepare to play."