HOUSTON – Rasheem Green created overwhelming leverage with a classic rip move, powerfully jamming his right arm underneath the right arm of Denver Broncos right tackle Cameron Fleming.
Once the Texans’ defensive end had Fleming leaning off-balance, Green capitalized on his forward momentum by racing around him, generating speed to power to sack his former Seattle Seahawks teammate: Broncos star quarterback Russell Wilson.
In his first regular-season game after missing the season-opener with a thigh injury, Green got to do something he never was allowed to do in practice in Seattle by sacking Wilson with quarterbacks off-limits for contact in practice.
“I knew it was going to be a pass, there was no back in the backfield,” Green said. “I was lined up wide, had a plan. I just went out there and was playing fast.”
Green and the Texans’ defense helped limit the Broncos to 3 of 12 conversions on third downs during a 16-9 road loss at Empower Field at Mile High. He had 1 1/2 sacks, five tackles and two quarterback hits.
Green was one of the few bright spots for the Texans, who held Wilson to a 66.5 passer rating on 14 of 31 accuracies for the 17th lowest mark of his 160-game career. The Broncos failed to score on two red-zone shots.
“I feel like the guys up front did a good job of collapsing the pocket and making sure you can’t just go out there and do a whole bunch of running around,” Green said. “I feel like the guys on the back end did a good job of making sure their coverage was good.”
Green recorded a career-high 6 1/2 sacks last season for the Seahawks before joining the Texans as a free agent on a one-year, $3.25 million deal that includes $1 million guaranteed.
“Rasheem did some very good things,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said. “Of course, you notice the flash plays, the big sack, trying to get the football out. His play against the run was pretty good. There’s a reason why he’s been in the mix. He is a good football player. Again, it will be a big challenge this week, but we like what he was able to do.”
Ultimately, the Texans came up short in Denver because they were outscored 10-0 in the fourth quarter. They’re now 0-1-1 largely because they’ve been outscored by a combined margin of 27-0 against the Indianapolis Colts and Broncos.
“To me, finishing means you’re out there doing ‘right’ longer,” Green said. “So I felt like we were doing ‘right’ for a large amount of the game, but we just got to do it longer and better.”
Green had six tackles for losses, 48 tackles and 15 quarterback hits last season.
“My style of play: fast, smart and physical,” Green said. “I feel like I left a lot of plays out there. I think that was just the tip of the iceberg. I think there’s a lot more out there I can achieve with what we have going on here. I can do a little more.”
Green is regarded as an ascending player and a strong fit for the Texans’ traditional 4-3 defensive scheme.
After visiting the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens in free agency, Green chose the Texans in May after the Texans didn’t draft a pass rusher.
“It’s nice being here,” Green said. “The guys have welcomed me. The culture and the city are great. The team is awesome. I like what we’ve got going on here and I’m just glad to be a part of the team. With the scheme we run here, I feel it suits me well, too.”
At 6-foot-4, 279 pounds, Green has the requisite size, speed, strength and moves working in his favor.
He has 99 career tackles, 15 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 29 quarterback hits.
A former high school All-American growing up in California, Green declared for the NFL draft after his junior year and finished with 115 tackles and 16 1/2 sacks in three college seasons.
Green has been growing on and off the field. He came into his own after dealing with a speech impediment as a child. That led to him being shy, but he has gained confidence and overcame the issue.
“It made me a real shy person,” Green said. “Getting better at my speech has made me a more confident person. That’s really helped me on and off the field.”
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and analyst and a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com