Quietly, but very steadily this season, Garret Wallow has contributed.
On Sunday in Jacksonville, though, his contributions were a little louder.
The rookie linebacker shared the team lead in tackles on the day with 11, and he also picked up his first career sack in the 30-16 victory. Wallow traced much of the success he enjoyed on a rainy late-December Sunday in North Florida to the Houston heat in early May.
"A lot of the preparation has been put in since we first arrived here in OTAs and just every day just having that mindset, just getting better, learning, learning the game better, becoming a student of the game better in any way that's possible," Wallow said.
The fifth-round pick from TCU was pressed into starting duty for the first time in his career due to a slew of teammates hitting the Reserve/COVID-19 List late in the week. With veterans like Kamu Grugier-Hill and Christian Kirksey out, it was time for guys like Wallow and Neville Hewitt to step in to help. And Hewitt was impressed with what he saw out of Wallow.
"I texted him last night and told him I'm proud of him," Hewitt said Monday. "To get that opportunity your rookie year and to go in there and play lights out like he did, and play with that fire and that energy, he has a great, great future ahead of him."
Until Week 13, Wallow had seen the field for a total of 15 defensive snaps, but against the Colts, he was in at linebacker for 18 snaps, and that number rose to 21 the next week versus Seattle. He's been a regular contributor on the special teams units throughout, but he took full advantage of the 66 defensive snaps he played in Jacksonville. According to Hewitt, he flourished.
"He was getting to the ball," Hewitt said. "The ball was there; he was running and hitting. He had a TFL. I believe he had a sack on the sideline. He was everywhere. You've got to keep into consideration, he was playing on special teams, as well. He was on kickoff return, punt, I believe those two phases of the game, and he was still playing at a high level on defense."
Tremon Smith, who returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score, said Wallow's "playing lights out right now" and lauded the rookie's work ethic.
"He's staying after practice," Smith said. "He's at practice early. And it's going to pay off, and he's going to be a great player for us on down the line."
Wallow, though, isn't satisfied. He believes paying attention to the little things will be the key moving forward.
"We just have to keep focusing on the small details," Wallow said. "Keep climbing, keep taking little steps forward each and every day. Altogether, just the small details really gets us to where we want to be."
See Wallow and the Texans host the Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday at noon CT inside NRG Stadium. Click here for tickets.