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39 inside linebacker prospect in the nation from the class of 2002. Ryans attended the University of Alabama, where he played outside linebacker for coach Mike Shula's Alabama Crimson Tide football team from 2002 to 2005.
Ryans started his career by earning a role on special teams and back up linebacker in his first season.
Many Texans fans began nicknaming him “D-Wreck” for his toughness and hard hits; other nicknames included D-ROY, intended to promote Ryans for the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and "Cap'n Meco," due to his status as a Texans team captain and in reverence of his tremendous professionalism and leadership both on and off the field.
On January 3, 2007, Ryans was awarded the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award after finishing second in the league with 155 total tackles (Zach Thomas 165), 31 more tackles than the next rookie (Detroit Lions linebacker Ernie Sims).
In his first game, he recorded a league-high 12 solo tackles.
Ryans had an overwhelming impact as a rookie linebacker for the Texans, leading the team in tackles in the first half of the 2006 season.
In 2013, Ryans improved even further, leading the team in tackles once more with 127, while also recording career highs in sacks (4.0), interceptions (2), and interception return yardage (46).
Ryans wore the Texans' defensive transmitter to relay plays from the sideline into the huddle. On March 30, 2010, Ryans signed a six-year extension worth million, including .75 million guaranteed.On November 3, 2014, Ryans was placed on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles tendon during the win over his former team, the Houston Texans.