With Cushing out, Texans have need at ILB

With Cushing out, Texans have need at ILB
October 21, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Darryl Sharpton returned off the PUP list last year but finished the year on the IR.

(USA Today Images)

The Texans took a major hit when they lost starting inside linebacker Brian Cushing for the season on Sunday. Then the linebacking corps took another hit when Willie Jefferson was cut on Monday.

With three roster spots (four once Cushing hits IR), expect the Texans to add some depth at inside linebacker during the bye week. It's a position head coach Gary Kubiak said was one of need.

“You have to expect in the NFL that injuries are going to happen, maybe not to your best linebacker on your team two years in a row,” Brooks Reed said. “It’s a physical sport and you have to expect that guys are going to be going down.”

With Jefferson gone, the Texans have moved inside linebacker Justin Tuggle to the outside. He’ll be the team’s backup SAM linebacker, while Bryan Braman will be the backup WILL.

That leaves Joe Mays, Darryl Sharpton, Tim Dobbins and Mike Mohamed as the remaining inside 'backers. Dobbins has been missing for a few weeks with a hamstring injury and Sharpton has played the past couple weeks without being able to practice much because of a toe injury. Mohamed was just recently brought up from the practice squad.

Mays and Sharpton will start inside, as it stands now. Mays has been a starter since his arrival in training camp. He took Sharpton’s job but now they’ll start next to each other. Kubiak said both guys can be three-down linebackers, so they might split that responsibility that used to belong to Cushing.

As for Cushing, he’ll have surgery this week to repair his left LCL and broken bone. His season is over.

“That’s a big loss for us but just like last year, we’ll have to find a way to get it done at middle ‘backer,” Reed said. “We can’t have excuses of why we can’t have it done. We just need to play better and we have plenty to play for. There’s still plenty of season left and have a big game coming up and that’s where our focus is.”