Texans rookie Jonathan Greenard gets his opportunity in strange conditions

By SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- Texans coaches believe in rookie outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard’s ability, but he’s played limited defensive snaps for a reason.

His once promising training camp was spoiled by a hamstring injury, and progress was slowed.

Greenard, who the Texans selected in the third round with the 90th overall pick of this year’s draft, has yet to play more than five defensive snaps in a game.

No one plays rookies less than the Texans. That's going to have to change if they play Sunday.

Greenard’s services will be needed Sunday when the Texans travel to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. If they travel to face the Jaguars. Texans interim head coach Romeo Crennel mentioned Thursday that whether they play Sunday is up to testing results they receive Friday, and whether the NFL decides it is safe enough for them to travel.

Houston is without three linebackers, two of them outside linebackers, because of a positive COVID-19 test and its subsequent contact tracing.

Outside linebacker Jacob Martin, a valuable reserve pass rusher for the Texans, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, leading the team to shut down its facility Thursday.

Contact tracing showed veteran outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and inside linebacker Dylan Cole were at-risk, and would be placed on the reserve COVID-19 list along with Martin.

Losing Mercilus and Martin leaves Brennan Scarlett and Greenard as the Texans’ remaining outside linebackers. They will have to get creative schematically to accommodate for this, but expect Greenard to play.

“I think Jon feels like he’s ready to play,” Crennel said Thursday. “Only time will tell. When we put him out there and how he plays, we’ll find out if he’s ready or not because we’re probably going to have to put him out there.”

Last year at Florida, Greenard led the SEC with 9.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. That success has not yet translated to the NFL, which defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver attributes largely to Greenard’s training camp injury.

Outside linebackers coach Chris Rumph was asked five questions by media members during the Texans’ bye week.

Three of those questions involved Greenard. Rumph joked that Greenard must have paid us to ask questions about him.

He is an interesting player who has barely played.

Now, due to odd circumstances, he will have to.

Here is what Rumph told us about Greenard:

“I'm just excited about the kid. He has all the ability, he has all the things, the traits, that we look for in an outside linebacker. 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.”

This is the chance. On the other side of Greenard will be another rookie, Jake Luton, who hasn't played at all.