Texans rookie OLB Jonathan Greenard learning as much as possible with experience

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E
By SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- Texans rookie outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard is showing enough on tape to indicate he deserves more playing time.

Right now, the Texans don't have too many other options, and Greenard has been thrusted into the spotlight due to injuries and challenges presented by positive COVID-19 tests.

But the rookie is making the most of his time.

With Jacob Martin out against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns the past two weeks, Greenard saw more snaps than he did earlier in the season.

The Texans are also without outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett, who suffered a broken forearm against the Jags.

Martin's absence in Jacksonville also disqualified veteran Whitney Mercilus, who was deemed a high-risk close contact late in the week. Greenard played 83 percent of the defensive snaps in Jacksonville, then with Mercilus back against Cleveland, Greenard saw 35 percent of the defensive snaps.

“It was good to get the feet wet," Greenard said Friday during a virtual press conference. "Even throughout the season any time I get a chance to get on the field, it’s just another experience of how I can get better, hopefully help the team get to where we want to be. For me, my goals right now are to learn as much as I can. If I get thrown out there, I’m going to be ready. I’m just trying to learn as much as possible because I hope to have a long career. If I have that situation to hone in on the things I need to work on, especially at this level, I think I’m going to be a very successful player.

"I think with guys like Whitney (Mercilus) and J.J. (Watt), other guys around here too, being leaders, just looking up to them and seeing the things they take from the game to help me out, I know it will make my job easier.”

Greenard admitted he could work on finishing overall, getting in better shape and his pass rush moves. He wants to become a more complete player.

Greenard is taking notes from Mercilus and Watt, who appear to have lost a step but still understand the game in ways from which the the rookie can learn.

“I think this game is such a methodical game and strategic to the point where everybody is big and strong, so now you have to hone in on the thing that makes everybody different from everybody," Greenard said. "What do they do really good that makes them who they are or establish their name in the league? I think just learning who I am and understanding – using my traits and my athletic abilities and my knowledge to give me an upper hand, it’s helping me out. I see that with Whitney (Mercilus), guys who are getting older and may not have the same burst but they’re still making plays because they’ve honed in on their technique to the point where they’re unstoppable.

"I cherish that every time I’m out there on the field, being on there with guys who’ve been in the league for nine, 10-plus years. To hone in on those details and watch them and how they work every day, it’s definitely helped me out.”

The Texans selected Greenard in the third round of this year's draft with the 90th overall pick. Greenard led the SEC in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (15.5) last season for Florida.

So far, Greenard has just six tackles and has yet to hit the quarterback.

“I missed a couple of them in the Jacksonville game, but there’s more opportunities," Greenard said when asked how hungry he is to get sacks. "I know that those opportunities come and they come and go. They could be there one time and they can never come again, so I definitely would love to have those back. Like any pass rusher, I’m definitely hungry to get to the quarterback.

"I haven’t hit a quarterback in a long time, so hopefully I can get that chance whenever the time comes. Like I said, I am itching for it.”