DENVER – Texans rookie left offensive guard Kenyon Green is slated to make his NFL starting debut against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, according to league sources.
The first-round draft pick from Texas A&M, former consensus All-American and All-Southeastern Conference selection played 38 snaps a week ago in a 20-20 tie against the Indianapolis Colts, appearing in 54 percent of the offensive plays. Justin McCray, who started the opening game at left guard, played 32 snaps for 46 percent of the total offensive plays.
A former blue-chip recruit from Atascosita High School, Green will line up next to Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil. McCray will operate as the top interior backup with Scott Quessenberry starting at center. Veteran center Justin Britt is out for personal reasons related to football as he contemplates his options.
“It felt good being out there with LT helping me out,” Green said this week at NRG Stadium.
How much does it help to have Tunsil as a resource?
“A lot, a lot,” Green said.
There were some communication issues against the Colts, including a key sack by unblocked blitzing linebacker E.J. Speed as Tunsil and Green both blocked the same player. The forced fumble was a pivotal moment in the game, leading to a touchdown.
“I’m getting better and better each week,” Green said of his progress in pass protection, crediting the tutelage of offensive line coach George Warhop. “We just got to keep working.”
Green acknowledged it was an adjustment with the superior speed of an NFL game.
“Big difference, people flying around,” he said. “I had to pick up the speed.”
The Broncos have a talented front seven headlined by pass rushers Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory along with interior linemen Dre’Mont Jones and D.J. Jones.
“They’re physical and can move well,” Green said. “They like to use their hands.”
Green has made progress since undergoing surgery in the offseason for a lateral collateral ligament and suffering a concussion during the preseason.
His knee has improved significantly and he wears a brace for protective reasons.
Green was signed to a four-year, fully guaranteed $15.9 million contract that includes a fifth-year club option. A former consensus All-American and All-Southeastern Conference selection, Green is a former Houston Touchdown Club Offensive Player of the Year.
“The rook is doing pretty good,” Texans right tackle Tytus Howard said during training camp “I think Kenyon is doing a pretty good job of when he was not in the ones, watching what he needs to be able to do to keep up with the ones.”
Green (6-foot-4, 323 pounds) started two games at right tackle, one at left tackle, two at right guard, and seven at left guard last season for the Aggies.
“My blood, sweat, and tears have been here 21 years almost,” Green said after being drafted. “I mean, it’s really nothing else to say. I’m here. I’m ready to go, so, you know, whatever that takes, whatever we need to do to do that, I’m willing and ready.”
A former All-SEC Freshman selection at right guard, Green moved to left guard in 2020 and started every game. He was named a second-team All-American and second-team all-SEC selection. Green was a finalist for the Lombardi Award last season.
“He’s been a really productive, consistent player,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said after the draft. “He played tackle. He played guard. I would say he is probably a better guard than he is a tackle. I think he is probably more of an inside player, but we’ll put him in the mix. Local kid, so I’m sure all of the Texans, fellow Texans, will be happy about that. He’s a real solid kid. I would say blue-collar, humble, soft-spoken, lunch pail. Shows up; doesn’t say much. Just kind of works his ass off and wants to play football. That fits the profile of what we want from the players that walk in this building.”
Quessenberry has been preparing all week to step in after Britt didn’t practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday after expressing disappointment in his play during an overtime tie versus the Indianapolis Colts that included some rough moments by him with a false start penalty and some missed blocks.
Quessenberry, the third brother to play for the Texans, joined the team on a one-year, $1.18 million contract this offseason. The former All-Pac-12 selection from UCLA has played in 60 career NFL games with nine starts since the Los Angeles Chargers drafted him in the fifth round in 2018.
“It’s just the next-man-up mentality,” Quessenberry said Thursday after practice. “Always prepare like you’re the starter and like you’re going to play every snap of the game. Be ready for the unexpected. Just going to go out there and play hard-nosed football and try to finish every play and play hard and play to the whistle and give everything I’ve got for the four other guys out there. It feels good. I’ve played in this league before and this won’t be the last time I play in this league.”
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com.