While most of the Texans are adjusting to a new coaching staff and new schemes on both sides of the football, Jonathan Greenard is having to get used to a whole different kind of existence in his second year in the NFL.
Greenard, the Texans third-round draft pick under the old regime in 2020, is shifting from outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense to a defensive end in Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 4-3 scheme. The difference is now he will start with both hands on the ground instead of from a two-point stance.
But the intent for Greenard remains the same, and that is get after the quarterback.
“Really just more of the nitty gritty now,” Greenard said of the transition. “Just take less of the thinking out of it and just go. I’m excited to see where we go. We’ve been working really hard, so I’m excited.”
It may seem like an easy shift but there are a lot of subtle differences that the Texans new staff began smoothing out for Greenard during the recent eight-week offseason program. Greenard, who is 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, won’t have to worry about dropping back into pass coverage as much but he will now have to maneuver around much bigger offensive tackles instead of tight ends.
“Like I said, the nitty gritty dirty work up front,” Greenard said. “More so, like I said, just to dumb it down, I have less coverage responsibilities in this scheme and it just lets you be more of a defensive lineman and go make plays from the other side of the ball.”
Texans defensive line coach Bobby King has been satisfied with the progress he has seen from both Greenard and Jacob Martin, who are both making the shift from linebacker to defensive end this offseason.
“It hasn’t been that difficult of a transition,” King said. “The only thing is they’re going to have their hand in the dirt just a little bit more. When we went to our nickel package in the past with those guys, they played defensive ends.”
Last season Greenard didn’t have the impact either he or the organization had hoped when he was drafted out of the University of Florida. Greenard managed just one sack, two quarterback hits and three solo tackles while making just one start in 13 appearances. Some of the inconsistencies go along with making the transition from the college ranks to the pros, but Greenard and most rookies were done no favors by COVID-19, which prevented the in-person work and training needed.
“COVID last year just messed everything up to where I didn’t work out until pretty much I got to camp,” Greenard said. “Now, I have a full season of working out. I feel better. I feel stronger, faster, more smart, more comfortable in everything.”
That comes from having the benefit of being able to take part in a full offseason program along with working with Texans lineman specialist Brandon Jordan, who has worked to improve Greenard’s pass-rushing technique.
“Me and BT (Brandon Jordan), we get it in a lot,” he said. “I’m really just fine-tuning everything. I kind of don’t really stick to one move. I try to polish all of mine. I definitely want to master one move, obviously. I’ve just been opening up my range of moves for everything. Getting more flexible. Getting more stronger, powerful, hands, eyes, just all working everything together.”