After J.J. Watt announced that he would be released by the Texans last Friday, most of the reaction around the league centered on who would sign the three-time defensive player of the year.
We know the Texans won’t be that team, which leads to a different focus in Houston. That focus is on who will step up in the absence of Watt to become a leader on the team’s defensive line.
Defensive end Charles Omenihu is one of several players who learned from Watt and will now be charged with trying to do some of what he could do on the field. The 2019 fifth-round pick saw his playing time spike late last season and finished the year with four sacks and 16 quarterback hits.
Omenihu said that Watt “helped me see things a little faster” and that he hopes to use the veteran’s tutelage as a springboard heading into his third NFL season.
“We’re all going to step up our game, guys like me and Ross Blacklock,” Omenihu said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “It’s the next-man-up mentality that J.J. taught us and we’re all going to have to grow up a little bit faster.”
The Texans Defense wasn’t very good with Watt, so there’s going to be a lot of work for the team to do to build a capable unit without the help of their longtime star.