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Texans DL Ross Blacklock Hoping For Breakout Season In 2022

After a turbulent first two seasons, defensive lineman Ross Blacklock is aiming for a breakout season ahead of year three with the Houston Texans.

HOUSTON — Third-year defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard has received high praise since the start of training camp on July 29 — and it's easy to understand why.

Greenard was one of a few bright spots for the 4-13 Houston Texans last season after recording a career-best 33 tackles, 13 quarterback hits, and 8.0 sacks. If not for a handful of nagging injuries that limited him to a dozen games, Greenard would have finished the 2021 campaign with double-digit sacks.

Greenard is the only prospect from the 2020 NFL Draft that has established himself as a building block for the Texans. But in 2022, defensive lineman Ross Blacklock is hoping to change that narrative.

"I'm praying for it — only time will tell," Blacklock said following training camp practice on Saturday. "I know the man upstairs has a plan for me, so, I'm just going with that."

The Texans drafted Blacklock with the No. 40 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. But the Missouri City native has yet to live up to his second-round projection.

Houston's franchise began its transition into a rebuild when Blacklock entered the league, and the lack of camaraderie and veteran leadership at his position group hampered his development. 

But as he enters year three, Blacklock has two veteran defensive linemen who have assisted him in finding his niche during training camp. 

Blacklock says it's been great having Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes in the room due to their leadership. But most importantly, Blacklock has been granted a pair of defensive linemen who could help with his on-field growth.

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With the advice received from Addison and Hughes amid enhancing his work ethic, Blacklock has worked on his footsteps and hands while not shying away from trying new moves during camp. He has also taken a different mental approach to the game by learning to dissect the offensive line. 

"Ross is doing a tremendous job learning what we want him to do," Texans' defensive line coach Jacques Cesaire said. "He's picking up the technique and is coming out and working. He understands that he has to make a big jump in his third year. And he is working every day to make that jump."

Blacklock's enhancements were on display Saturday morning during training camp practice, where he helped the Texans' front seven cause disruption for the offensive line.  

He created a pair of pass rush opportunities by beating offensive linemen Myron Cunningham and Jimmy Morrissey off the line of scrimmage. 

Blacklock's approach entering his third season is to be the best version of himself while giving coach Lovie Smith reasons to play him more next season. In his first two seasons with the Texans, Blacklock has notched 36 tackles, eight quarterback hits and 2.0 sacks in 29 games.   

"I'm a lot more comfortable — a lot of growth," Blacklock said. "I just need to keep trying to stack days — stacking just personal goals and team goals for myself. I need to do it on and off the field to be the best version of myself. I see it growing, I just have to keep stacking."

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