3 key Texans defenders who stood out in training camp

On the eve of the team's first 2020 scrimmage, Anthony Weaver likes what he sees in his defense.

The first-year defensive coordinator believes he has playmakers at each level of the defense. 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt is healthy and should be ready to go September 10 at Kansas City. But in addition to him, Weaver is excited about other standouts at each level of the Texans defense.

A defensive lineman in Baltimore and Houston from 2002 to 2008, Weaver joked that he was trying not to be biased when describing who's stood out to him in training camp. But he began with outside linebacker Jacob Martin, who joined the club via trade around this time last year. Learning the 2019 defensive playbook on the fly, Martin steadily contributed more and more throughout the season. He finished with 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits in the regular season. After a full offseason and training camp, Weaver is encouraged by what Martin can do.

"He's a guy that we ask to do multiple jobs," Weaver said. "He rushes off the edge. He drops into coverage. He's a guy that can absolutely be a playmaker for us on defense."

Another positive for Martin: added size. He was able to pack some more weight to his 6-2 frame.

"I put on 21 pounds from the last game of the season until now," Martin said. "I'm about 247 right now. It's been awesome. My weight's been really steady. I feel healthy. I feel bigger. Obviously, I got stronger and things like that. It's been awesome."

Behind Martin, Weaver has seen very good things from inside linebacker Zach Cunningham.

"Day in and day out just gets the job done and makes plays that always leave you shaking your head a little bit," Weaver said. "You're like, 'how did he make that play?"

Cunningham wound up with 142 tackles in 2019, which was tops in the AFC. A

In the secondary, Weaver tabbed Justin Reid as the third player who's really caught his eye.

"You just talk about consistency, professionalism, leadership – he checks all of those boxes," Weaver said. "He has the desire to be a great one. So those are the first three names that come to mind."

Weaver and the Texans will have an intrasquad scrimmage Thursday night inside NRG Stadium.

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