Ross Blacklock feels like a freshman all over again.
The Houston Texans second-round draft selection is a rookie in a COVID-19 era that eliminated rookie minicamps, offseason programs and preseason games.
"It's a crazy year for us, so we've got to just be able to adjust on the fly," Blacklock said. "This year, this league is not going to slow down for nobody. You've just go to play a game of catch-up right now."
With training camp underway, the Houston native is getting to apply what he learned in his offseason Zoom meetings on the field. His role in the Texans defense is different from what TCU asked of him, but is also allows the 6-3, 290-pound defensive tackle to be more disruptive. Much like how he fit into the city of Houston, his hometown, Blacklock feels like the Texans scheme is a great fit for him too.
"Here, I can go up the field, get off the ball, penetrate, create more havoc than I did in college," Blacklock said. "I like this system a lot more because it takes more thinking out of it as a d-lineman. So, I just have to work on my technique and get better at that in a new system and stuff like that. It's coming along."
In his free time, Blacklock has been learning from pros like J.J. Watt, a guy he admits he has been watching since he was a freshman at Elkins High School in Missouri City. Blacklock would come home from school and absorb as much as he could about pass rush from one of his favorite hometown players.
As a rookie, Blacklock admits the biggest adjustment is making the most of his extra time.
"You're not going to class after practice, so you have a lot of time on your hands to use it to your best ability," Blacklock said. "Like I said, getting in the treatment training room. Get an extra stretch, lift. I do yoga every night. Just kind of go over my plays and do yoga every night and just get ready for the next day instead of laying around or doing whatever you're doing. I just put in that extra work. That'll help in the long run."
With just over two weeks remaining until the first regular season game of 2020, Blacklock and all rookies are on a crash course to quickly adjust to playing in the NFL. So far, Blacklock is doing all the right things and it's showing.
"It's just how fast can he get caught up to the speed of the game," head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said Tuesday. "I think the guy really works hard. I think he's a really good player and I think he's going to help us. All those guys, not just Ross, they're a long way off. I mean, it's just a totally different ball game than college. But they're working and Ross is working and he's definitely improving."
The Houston Texans open the 2020 regular season on Thursday, September 10 at Kansas City. Kickoff is set for 7:20 p.m. CT on NBC and SportsRadio 610.