Texans' Whitney Mercilus not surprised to see rookie Jonathan Greenard play with 'high energy'

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By SportsRadio 610

(SportsRadio 610) -- It was different for Whitney Mercilus taking in a Texans game from home, coaching from the couch and getting a bird's eye view of the action.

Mercilus was unable to play last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars because he had been deemed a high-risk close contact to fellow outside linebacker Jacob Martin, who'd tested positive for COVID-19.

With Mercilus and Martin out, it meant more snaps for rookie Jonathan Greenard. Mercilus liked what he saw from the rookie, but said he wasn't surprised.

"Just high energy, playing within the scheme of the defense, understanding what to do and all that so when he has opportunities, just make them," Mercilus said Friday when asked about Greenard. "But he does that every single day at practice, so it was very, very impressive to see that, being a starter, essentially. (Rookie defensive lineman) Ross (Blacklock), he’s been in there and seeing a lot of good things out of him. The future’s bright for those guys.”

Martin is still out due to COVID-19 protocol. The Texans also lost Brennan Scarlett to a broken forearm in the Jaguars game, so Greenard is expected to replace him opposite Mercilus.

"He got some good experience last week," Texans interim head coach Romeo Crennel said Friday morning. "Now with Whitney coming back, we’ve got a couple guys there that we can rotate and play. I think that having Whitney will really help Greenard because he can be fresher, because last week he was playing defense and playing on special teams. So there was very little opportunity to get a rest or a breath between playing. Now having Whitney back, that should help him quite a bit."

A nearly perfect game for the Texans' defensive front is needed going against a Browns rushing attack led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

The Browns' rushing offense ranks 10th in DVOA, which measures efficiency, according to Pro Football Outsiders.

Gap discipline and trusting each other to maintain assignments in the run game will be key.

"Guys have been doing that, especially at practice," Mercilus said. "Just being where we need to be instead of jumping out of our gaps, playing or seeing ghosts out there and stuff like that. Just little minute things that can cost you. If one person’s out of place sometimes these offenses really can hurt you when that one mistake happens. Just making sure we’re pretty much perfect on each play."