Phoebus High and Virginia Tech alums Xavier Adibi and Stephen Friday combined for half the Houston Texans' seven sacks in Monday night's preseason opener against the New York Jets.
Not bad for two guys playing new positions in a new defense.
Houston hired deposed Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator during the offseason, and Phillips switched the team from its 4-3 alignment to his trademark 3-4. That meant position swaps for Adibi, a four-year veteran, and Friday, a rookie free agent.
An outside linebacker throughout his college and NFL career, Adibi played inside linebacker in Monday's 20-16 victory. Friday, a defensive end at Tech, played outside linebacker. Both spent plenty of time in the Jets' backfield.
Coming off the bench early in the first quarter, Adibi recorded two first-half sacks, one of starter Mark Sanchez, the other of reserve Greg McElroy. Both were for 5-yard losses.
Adibi had a third tackle, also behind the line, corralling tailback Bilal Powell for a 3-yard loss after a third-quarter pass completion.
Friday's contributions came during the fourth quarter, when the Texans rallied from a 16-13 deficit. He sacked McElroy for a 4-yard loss early in the period and teamed with fellow rookie Bryan Braman on an 8-yard sack during the waning moments.
Friday led Virginia Tech with 8.5 sacks last season to earn second-team All-ACC honors. Adibi was a first-team selection as a senior in 2007, when he had a team-high 115 tackles.
A fourth-round draft pick in 2008, Adibi started eight games in his first three seasons with Houston. He had 41 solo tackles as a linebacker, none of them sacks, and 11 on special teams, despite nagging hamstring and groin injuries.
In quotes posted on the Texans' website, head coach Gary Kubiak talked about Adibi.
"I'll tell you what happens," he said. "When you have change, you get a new coordinator to come in and some guys get new life and they'll say, 'This defense fits me.' I think I've seen that with (Adibi) as a player. … I just think there's some new life within the group and I think you're going to see some of those young guys get better and better, and he's obviously had a very good camp. He's staying healthy. He's been nicked in the past but he's been healthy."
And these remarks from Adibi on Phillips' 3-4.
"It was different at first for us. We really like the fact that it helps us get after the quarterback. You just don't know where (the pressure) is coming from. It makes it tough on the offensive side of the ball. It's something that we are going to love. …
"The more snaps, the better. I feel like everybody on our defense is getting a feel for everything, and it's coming along for us. ... We've still got a lot to put in, a lot of techniques to put in and get the feel for the whole technique of our defense."
And playing inside instead of outside?
"It's different, but I had a lot of fun out there," Adibi said. "I've always been an outside guy, and I've played middle here and there, but the overall fact that it's a 3-4 means you've got to do a lot more reading that just coming downhill."
Whether Adibi can earn a full-time starting role and Friday can make the roster are to be determined. Houston's next preseason game is Saturday against the New Orleans Saints.