Texans' pass rushers 'relentlessly' chase down Rams' quarterbacks

In a blur of movement, Texans middle linebacker Christian Kirksey shot through a huge gap in the Los Angeles Rams' offensive line.

The blitz caught Rams quarterback John Wolford completely off guard as Kirksey slammed him to the ground in a preseason game and flexed his muscles in celebration.

It was a sign of more punishment to come as Wolford was a man under siege. He was sacked five times in the first half as the Texans aggressively attacked the pocket.

After Kirksey's sack, Wolford was flushed out and sacked by defensive end Demone Harris.

Defensive end Jon Greenard, the Texans' leader with eight sacks last season, dashed into the backfield untouched for another sack.

Defensive tackle Roy Lopez powered his way ahead for another sack with a bull-rush and rip move punctuated by his trademark salsa dance celebration that Greenard joined him in performing.

Defensive back Grayland Arnold crushed Wolford on a blitz. And defensive end Ogbo Okoronkwo nearly had a sack with Derek Rivers finishing the play for his team-high third sack of the preseason.

"We have a talented defensive line, we've got depth and we're hungry," said Okoronkwo, a former Alief Taylor standout who joined the Texans this offseason after earning a Super Bowl ring with the Rams. "We're coming after the quarterback relentlessly. Everybody is locked in. It's very contagious pressure."

The Texans had six sacks against the Rams, and have 11 sacks overall heading into their third preseason game Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers at NRG Stadium.

Okoronkwo is sidelined for the Texans' game against the 49ers due to a biceps injury, according to a league source, but is expected to return by the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

Signed to a one-year, $3.25 million contract, Okoronkwo has one sack, two quarterback hits, one tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.

"We feel like we have depth on the defensive line, especially at the defensive end position," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "It's good to see them and you're going to need them throughout. They finished it up well. We've been getting decent pressure. We have depth there, yes."

Rivers' quickness has been eye-catching, and his moves.

Rivers executed a "ghost move," dipping below a block for a sack against the New Orleans Saints.

“Just getting off the ball, trying to show my hands and then run around, just go," said Rivers, a former New England Patriots second-round draft pick from Youngstown State who joined the Texans last year as a free agent. "Wasn't a lot of thinking once we got to the top, kind of blacked out and just went.”

The Texans have added veteran defensive ends Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison and Rasheem Green along with Okoronkwo this offseason. Their top interior pass rusher is defensive tackle Maliek Collins.

And their new defensive line coach is Jacques Cesaire, a former NFL defensive lineman who was previously an assistant with the Buffalo Bills.

“It's been awesome because we've got on a good roll," Rivers said. "A lot of brothers in there, so everybody been learning from each other, like young dudes pick from Maliek. Maliek's been learning from some of the younger dudes, like I learned a crap ton from Beezy (Okoronkwo), Jerry (Hughes), Rio (Addison), Demone (Harris), just watching each other. 

"We have a real close-knit group. When you've got that and guys kind of like holding themselves and learn, take things from one another because we continue to learn every single day. So, that's been real good and that's what Jacques teaches in there. It's been a blessing. It's been helpful for everybody's game.”

Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content