More playing time is on the way for the Texans rookies on defense.
After seeing very little action in the first seven contests of the season, defensive lineman Ross Blacklock, outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard and cornerback John Reid will all likely get more game reps when the Texans resume play after this Sunday's bye week.
Blacklock logged a combined 46 snaps in his first four games. But in the last two weeks, he's tallied a combined 43 snaps on defense, playing roughly a third of the total snaps on that side of the ball. Things are looking up for Blacklock, according to defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver.
"Ross has earned more reps, and he's out there getting that game experience, which is obviously priceless for him, in the growth and maturation that has to occur in his career," Weaver said. "There's definitely things we're still working through now."
Greenard, meanwhile, has been active in each of the last four games. He's participated in about half of the special teams snaps each time, but has a combined 11 snaps in that span on defense.
"As he grows more comfortable and gains more confidence and becomes more consistent in his technique and fundamentals, then he'll get more reps, too," Weaver said.
The SEC's sacks leader as a Florida Gator in 2019, Greenard is an exciting prospect, according to his position coach Chris Rumph.
"He has all the ability, he has all the things, the traits, that we look for in an outside linebacker," Rumph said. "He's big. He's 265 pounds. Got long arms. He can set the edge. He has pass-rushing ability. He has strength. He's able to play the run. He's athletic. Then he has the ability also to drop into coverage. I'm excited. When it all comes together, wish it would have came together a little earlier, that's not due to anything that he's done, just circumstances, the situation. So hopefully we'll get him going here the second half of the season."
As for Reid, the Penn State product turned heads in training camp. Getting more time in the secondary on gameday will happen if he keeps up what he's been showing in practice.
"He's not one of those guys that take those reps for granted," defensive backs coach D'Anton Lynn said. "You see him continue to grow, work his technique on scout team. It carries over in practice when he has to be with us on defense.
Ultimately, a defense that's struggled mightily through the first seven games of 2020 must get better if the Texans hope to get back in the win column consistently. Finding contributions from some of their youngest members would help.
The Texans have this weekend off, and will face the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday, November 8 at Noon CT.