Texans rookie linebacker Garret Wallow was pressed into an expanded defensive role Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, a change prompted by linebacker Zach Cunningham being inactive for disciplinary reasons.
The athletic fifth-round draft pick from TCU capitalized on the opportunity, recording two tackles as he played a season-high 18 defensive snaps for 25 percent of the defensive playing time. Wallow didn't look out of place in the base defense.
He made an impression on his older teammates.
“Good player since the beginning," said Texans linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who recorded a franchise record 19 tackles. "I’m excited for him. To come in, get some legit playing against a good team, playoff team. I think he did well, too. I'm excited for him.”
Signed to a four-year, $3.775 million rookie contract that includes a $295,884 signing bonus, Wallow is a two-time All-Big 12 Conference selection who had 287 career tackles, 32 ½ for losses and 9 ½ sacks.
Wallow ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds at the Horned Frogs’ campus Pro Day workout where he bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times and had a 32 ½ inch vertical leap, a 10-2 broad jump, a 4.12 short shuttle and a 6.87 three-cone drill.
Wallow had 90 tackles last season, including nine for losses and three sacks, five quarterback hits and three forced fumbles.
“Garret's been amazing," Texans linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "He shows up in practice. I mean, that linebacker group, just how we were built as a unit, guys can step in and not lose a beat. Coach always preaches next man in, take advantage of the opportunity.
"Just from top to bottom in our linebacker unit, we're very confident on who goes out on the field. We all can play multiple positions in that linebacker room. So when Wallow came in, he just fit right in and made the plays he's supposed to make and was having fun doing it.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 years, 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