HOUSTON -- Scheme fit is just as important as a player's draft location. For Houston Texans defensive end Charles Omenihu, it might be the reason his production doubles in 2021.
Two weeks into training camp and few have benefitted from the new 4-3 scheme like the third-year defender. Defensive coordinator Lovie Smith called Omenihu a "versatile" piece that can maneuver both inside and off the edge.
For now, Omenihu only concern is about bettering his skills. He'll be asked to step up with the departure of three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
“I just kind of want to keep that momentum going,” said Omenihu said. “It’s a new defense, new guys. I think as a defensive line, we want to just kind of go out in the first game and just kind of prove a point.
"Everybody’s got a chip on their shoulder.”
The 23-year-old is now one of the veterans of the Texans' defense. This offseason, Houston added 52 total new players via the draft and free agency — 21 of which were on the defensive side of the ball. Of the 21 names, two are rookies and 18 signed one-year prove-it deals to join the franchise.
Of the 40 total defensive names, 22 are in their final year of their current contract. Omeheniu is one of eight players that could receive an extension before he hits his final year in 2022.
Every play can make someone stand out to the coaching staff. On Saturday, Omenihu and blocker Justin Britt got heated after the defender knocked down Tyrod Taylor during the team's scrimmage.
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“The competition here is high,” Omenihu said. “So that’s what they’ve been pushing and what we’ve been striving every day, competing and getting better with a group of guys that are very talented.”
Omenihu, who has recorded seven sacks since being drafted in the fifth-round out of Texas, is benefitting from the working with his hand in the dirt. As a starter for the Longhorns, he was at his best when working as a defensive end and inside.
In three seasons on the Forty Acres, he recorded 16.5 sacks and 30 tackles for losses.
“We see good competition," Smith said last week. "Omenihu, I've been asked about him a few times. We have a couple of guys that have position flexibility. He's one of them. You see him lining up for us, as a 3-technique in more passing situations.
"We have a few guys with position flexibility that will help on game day. We'll let him go.”
The 6-5, 280-pound defender is one of the more improved players in camp, which could be a positive sign for Houston's front seven.
"Lovie's defense produced very well in the time that he was in the league," Omenihu said. "(Playing in it) is definitely something I look forward to."
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