HOUSTON (AP) -Mario Williams was drafted by the Houston Texans because they considered the defensive end a can't-miss prospect with a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism.
What they couldn't know then was how he'd respond once he experienced NFL success.
After his breakout 14-sack season, Houston is seeing that it has only increased his drive to show that last year was simply a sampling of just how good he can be.
``I just know what I did wasn't good enough for me,'' Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``Every year you've got to say: 'I've got room to improve. I've got to improve.' So that's how I see it.''
Williams doesn't think of his progress in statistical terms but rather in how much his play can help the team. If there were a slogan for his mature, new attitude it would likely be something like ``Never satisfied.''
Ask him what kind of production would be good enough for him and get this response: ``It never will be. It can't be. If I was ever at the point where I said it was good enough, then I wouldn't or shouldn't be playing.''
Williams was dominant late last season, getting 10 sacks in the past seven games. His improvement has carried over into this spring. Teammates and coaches have raved about his work ethic and skills in Houston's offseason workouts, which wrapped up Monday.
``Mario's picked up right where he left off at the end of the season,'' defensive end Anthony Weaver said. ``He's a monster out there. It's not a matter of if they can stop him. It's about him stopping himself.''
Williams always had the physical skills necessary for success in this league, but in the more than two years since he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, he's developed the mind-set and maturity integral in long-term success.
``I like the maturity, I guess I should say, and how he's handling himself right now,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. ``There's not a lot of distractions going on. He's just playing ball and he's got his mind in the right place and I think that those are good things.''
He acknowledges that he's grown up a lot since he was drafted. He said he's stopped doing ``a lot of stuff'' without getting into specifics, possibly a nod to the video that surfaced on the internet before last season that featured him speeding down a North Carolina highway in a Lamborghini.
``I never did anything really bizarre, but it was just the little stuff,'' he said. ``I really have focused in on football. Not that I didn't before. But there was always a little of this and a little of that, but now everything I do is football. Everything.''
It seems unlikely that a 23-year-old multimillionaire leads such a dull existence off the field, but Williams insists it's true.
``I haven't been anywhere,'' he said. ``I haven't been on vacation. I haven't done anything. It's not that I'm getting old and boring. My personality is that I just like relaxing and hanging out.''
With this shift in Williams comes a feeling of responsibility to become more of a leader on defense. Williams will likely never be a vocal leader, but he hopes to lead by example. Williams is the marquee player on a defense that includes fellow first-round picks Amobi Okoye and Travis Johnson on the line as well as 2006 defensive rookie of the year DeMeco Ryans.
``I just try to go hard every play and that's what I want everyone to do,'' he said. ``I just want everyone to be accountable. If we're accountable to one another I think we'll be fine.''
Williams was disappointed with not being voted to the Pro Bowl last season despite tying for third-most sacks in the league. But the sting of that was nothing compared to the abuse he took in the press and from fans as a rookie after the Texans passed on Vince Young and Reggie Bush to get him. Thick skin, he learned, is a necessity in the NFL.
``If last year taught me anything, it showed me that you can't satisfy everybody,'' he said. ``You had people my rookie year saying I needed to get more sacks. Then I get sacks and I don't go. I just learned not to worry about it. You can't try to sit there and satisfy people. You can't ever win.''
``My only concern is to help this organization and play for this team.''
Notes: The Texans released QB Quinn Gray and T Jordan Black on Monday. ... Houston continues talks with free agent LB Rosevelt Colvin, who visited the team last week. ... The Texans are still trying to determine if T Charles Spencer will be able to play this season. Spencer, who hasn't played since breaking his leg in September 2006, is continuing his rehabilitation but did not participate in team drills during offseason practices. Team officials will likely decide before training camp if Spencer has a future with the team.

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