After the final game of his rookie season, Ross Blacklock took a month off from football to reflect. His 2020 campaign couldn't be further from what he expected. After an offseason derailed by COVID-19 where all NFL rookies lost out on reps, the Missouri City native was also in the midst of a losing season with his hometown team.
"I use that time to kind of just get my mental back and started to focus on what I want to do and the goals that I want to accomplish for next year, because everything this year, this season, is very personal for me," Blacklock said. "Because deep down inside, I know that I didn't have a year that I wanted to and I know that I could have done a lot more. So I'm taking everything very, very personally. Just all gas, no brakes, just tunnel vision. I want not only for myself, but more than myself, I want to have a better year for this team."
Blacklock, a second-round draft pick in 2020, saw action in 15 games with one start as a rookie. Because of the pandemic and social distancing guidelines, offseason programs were virtual and practice reps were non-existent with the cancellation of OTAs and preseason games. Nonetheless, Blacklock felt like he hit his stride around Week 6 at Tennessee where he recorded his first tackle for loss. After starting the season playing more on the interior, Blacklock moved outside and stepped in at defensive end when injuries arose on the defensive line.
"I knew the playbook; I had confidence towards the middle of the season of what I needed to do," Blacklock said. "I felt I remember to having a conversation with my dad and I was telling him I feel more comfortable and more confident in myself and just doing everything and not any doubts, just going out and just playing. And that's kind of the approach I just had to take throughout the whole year. Just keep that confidence and keep building on what's on your craft and stuff like that but it was stressful at first but I got I got past that."
Blacklock and the Texans will all get a fresh start in 2021 with a new coaching staff in place. After meeting new head coach David Culley, Blacklock is looking forward to playing for him and optimistic about what the future holds for him.
"He was working out, so it was a short conversation, but he seemed like a down to earth, a great guy," Blacklock said. "I've been doing a little research on him. He seemed to be ready for this opportunity. He's been waiting, he's been wanting to so I'm more than happy that he gets the chance to have this opportunity and change this program and this organization around."
Blacklock finished his 2020 season with 14 total tackles (10 solo), one tackle for loss and two quarterback hits.