(SportsRadio 610) - As Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard enters his third year with the team, his teammates and coaches are excited about the progress he’s made to date, and so is he.
The former third-round selection out of Florida compiled eight sacks, 12 quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss in just 12 games for the Texans last season.
The disruptive potential he has shown the coaches with his play on the field and all around leadership has head coach Lovie Smith paying close attention.
“I kind of see, instead of talking, I see a confident guy," Smith said. "First off, you don't talk unless you feel confident about who you are as a football player and what you can do, and sometimes it takes that leader to get things going a little bit."
As the Texans' defensive coordinator last season, Smith knows firsthand what kind of player Greenard can be for this defense, which is of course a main focus for Smith again this season.
“It's training camp, you know. It's not like it's the wedding night and everybody is excited and all that. It's training camp," Smith said. "So, you expect those kind of things from Jonathan. When you talk, you need to be able to make plays, and he can do that."
Greenard, coming off a foot injury that required surgery and limited him last season to just 12 games, is still in the process of ramping up to full strength.
The Texans and Greenard himself are hoping for a healthy, breakout season, as the Texans haven’t seen a pass rusher drop a quarterback 10 or more times since JJ Watt racked up 16 sacks in 2018.
Watt of course represents an era that, still for many fans is sadly long gone, yet still very fresh on their minds.
Greenard is looking forward to the beginning of a new era with the Texans, and is excited to be playing a vital role in it.
“Any time you get a chance to come out here and play ball, we get paid to play a child's game, so you've got to be happy about that," Greenard said. "At the same time, we all start fresh and we are all on the same level playing field. At this point, you have to control what you can control and put your best foot forward."
Greenard is putting a lot of focus this camp on adding more to his arsenal as a pass rusher. He’s been spending a lot of time talking with teammates and veteran offensive linemen Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard about improving.
“If I can learn these pointers and beat the best of the best or learn from the best of the best, that way I can make sure I’m successful on Sundays," Greenard said. "It don’t matter if I win or lose, I wanna know. At the end of the day, I’m not playing them in the game, we’re playing against somebody else and I guarantee you I’m not fixing to play somebody better than them."
The leadership that both Tunsil and Howard bring along with their extensive knowledge, confidence and competitiveness is contagious. That’s just the impetus for what it’s going to take to begin creating a winning culture and turning things around.