Jacob Martin bolted out of his three-point stance Sunday, accelerating into the Cleveland Browns' backfield to sack quarterback Baker Mayfield.
It was another example of the Texans pass rusher's uncanny quickness at the line of scrimmage.
The defensive end has maintained his speed despite adding some muscle this offseason and now has 10 1/2 career sacks heading intoThursday night's game against the Carolina Panthers at NRG Stadium.
Martin has one of the fastest get-off moves in the leagues, according to teammates' opinions and metrics tracking NFL players.
The former Seattle Seahawks sixth-round draft pick from Temple ranked third in the NFL for the fastest get-off among all defensive players after the first game of the season with an average time of 0.69 seconds. That ranked Martin only behind the Los Angeles Chargers' Joey Bosa's 0.51 seconds and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Alex Highsmith's 0.65 seconds.
"Jacob Martin, the guy gets off the ball like crazy," Texans defensive end Whitney Mercilus said. "He's got good pass rush moves, he's got an arsenal in his repertoire. He's going to be able to get a couple sacks out there, I ain't going to lie to you.
"He's got good bend, good hands, great get-off on the ball. It's just getting him those one-on-ones. Hopefully, we get a chance to get the quarterback to hold the ball a little bit and give him a chance.”
Martin recorded a sack and forced fumble in a preseason win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Martin had three sacks and one forced fumble last season while playing 34 percent of the overall defensive snaps. Martin has frequently displayed speed as an edge rusher, including his sack of Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes last season.
“It’s a race to the quarterback,” Martin said. “It’s who can get there first. It’s a competition.That’s one of our mottos: cause havoc in the backfield and get turnovers. We try to finish .Being around the ball is how you create turnovers.”
Acquired in a trade involving former Texans pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, Martin has four career forced fumbles and 19 quarterback hits. Martin is facing his former college coach, Matt Rhule, on Thursday.
The Next Gen stat told a story about Martin, who's playing 43 percent of the defensive snaps, and his twitchiness as a defensive player.
“I haven't seen that stat, but it doesn't surprise me," Texans defensive coordinator Lovie Smith said. "Jacob has excellent speed. He fits a profile that we would like at our five technique, our open-end position. He's athletic enough, you've seen him play on different special teams too. Maybe even linebacker-type skill set that he has.
"It's a big game for him,of course,playing against his old college coach too. But we want to be able to rush the passer with a four-man rush and not have to rely on blitzing and Jacob does that. Get him in a one-on-one situation with a tackle, again, he can beat a lot of guys.”
For the Texans' offensive line, competing against Martin in practice helps them prepare for speed rushers, including the Panthers' Brian Burns and Haason Reddick.
"I think I saw somewhere he has one of the fastest get-offs in the league," Texans left offensive guard Tytus Howard said. "Trust me, I've practiced against him, I went against him a lot on one-on-ones, and you can feel that get-off. So, I think going against guys like him helps prepare us for the game.”
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.