The Houston Texans have players on defense who are worth taking note of in ’22.
When looking at the roster of the ’22 Houston Texans at this point of the offseason, there are the usual names who stand out like rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (the third overall pick), linebacker Christian Kirksey, and defensive tackle Maliek Collins.
That said, there are more players who should also be drawing some interest for the upcoming offseason camps and the ’22 season itself, as Week 1 will be here in early September.
Being that we are nearing the month of June, let’s take a look at a couple defensive players who will be interesting to watch and keep notes on once all the other camps and games begin.
Ross Blacklock, Defensive Tackle
Blacklock was the 40th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the second rounder will be entering his third season in the league, playing his second season with now-head coach Lovie Smith calling the shots on defense.
Blacklock’s rookie season saw him make one start, and for that entire season (he was on active roster for 15 games) he totaled one tackle for loss and had 10 solo tackles with two QB hits, as he played in the middle of the defense for Romeo Crennel that rookie season.
Last season with Smith’s defense, Blacklock had 14 solo tackles, two tackles for loss, and six QB hits on a defense that had its share of struggles.
Year three for Blacklock is very important as this could be his year to really show what he’s capable of, as this is the first time in his career where he’s been in the same defense. Blacklock has technically had four head coaches now in what will be his third season with Bill O’Brien, Crennel (interim HC), David Culley, and now Smith as his head coach. Stability will be nice for Blacklock as he begins his third season.
Eric Murray, Strong Safety
This is a player who could do good things for the Texans’ defense in ’22. With rookie Jalen Pitre at free safety for Houston, Murray’s experience in the secondary will come in handy when the ’22 season begins against Indianapolis in September.
Murray is important to the secondary in ’22, especially in the early season because the Texans will have two rookies in the mix as starters (most likely), those being Derek Stingley Jr. at cornerback and Pitre at FS.
This will be Murray’s third season with Houston and his seventh overall, with stops playing for the Chiefs and Browns from 2016-19.
Murray this past season had one interception and four passes defensed, 48 solo tackles and made 11 starts in the 16 games he played in. Murray allowed 23 receptions on 37 passes that went his direction in 2021.
Again, having Murray on the defense will be a positive, and it will be interesting to see how the younger players learn from him, and how he will be challenged with those same younger players on the roster and field with him all at the same time.