Texans like rookie Roy Lopez's toughness in middle of defense

Roy Lopez is accustomed to heavyweight wrestling matches, so grappling in the trenches suits the Texans' rookie defensive tackle.

A former two-time high school state wrestling champion in Arizona, Lopez uses that background to his advantage as he applies leverage, strength, technique and grit to his job.

At 6-foot-2, 318 pounds, the sixth-round draft pick from the University of Arizona provide a stout, blue-collar presence in the middle of the Texans' defense.

Lopez, who had a 113-3 wrestling record at Mesquite High School in Tempe where he was named Arizona Defensive Lineman of the Year, bench pressed 225 pounds 36 times at his campus Pro Day workout.

A transfer from New Mexico State, Lopez was an honorable-mention All-Pac 12 selection last season with 18 tackles, four for losses and one sack in five game. He had 63 tackles, 12 1/2 for losses and four sacks in his best season at New Mexico State.

Although Lopez isn't known for having dynamic pass rushing moves, he adds toughness and bulk to clog up the middle as a run-stopper. The Texans like what they've seen from Lopez so far.

“He'saflash is what he's done,"Texans defensive coordinator Lovie Smith said. "He will be playing the nose guard position for us, but he's a nose guard with a little bit of three technique athletic ability because he has a little bit of wiggle to him also, strong, compact. He's done some good things. You need to be bringing young players up through the system. Like what he's done so far.”

Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 years and has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128

Photo: Houston Texans

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