Texans' Jacob Martin, Jon Greenard adapting to 4-3 defensive end roles

Jacob Martin and Jon Greenard primarily operated out of two-point stances a year ago, standing up and rushing off the edge for the Texans' sub package as outside linebackers.

Now that new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith is installing his traditional 4-3 base defense, Martin and Greenard are playing defensive end and are listed at that position on the roster along with former outside linebackers Shaq Lawson, Whitney Mercilus, Jordan Jenkins and Duke Ejiofor.

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It's not a dramatic change, in the view of Texans coach David Culley.

Martin, who had three sacks and a forced fumble last season while playing 34 percent of the overall defensive snaps, has gotten noticeably bigger and stronger to prepare for his new role. Martin has frequently displayed speed as an edge rusher, including his sack of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes last year, and has 9 1/2 career sacks and four forced fumbles and 18 quarterback hits.

And Greenard, a 6-foot-3, 263-pound third-round draft pick who had 19 tackles, one sack and three quarterback hits in 24 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie, is following a similar path.

Culley acknowledged, though, that the hand fighting at the line of scrimmage is a somewhat different ball game because of the proximity to much heavier offensive tackles.

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"A football player is a football player," Culley said. "Those guys right there are two guys that are able to put their hands down on the ground and be productive players and they basically are two guys that obviously were in a 3-4 system before, now we’re going to a 4-3 system. Now all of a sudden they have been up and down with their hands, so that transition going down because of the type of players that that they are, is really not a big adjustment other than the fact that you understand right now it’s a little bit dirtier down there than it is when you’re playing with your hands up. Those guys understand that and those guys have embraced that.”

Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.

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