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Add inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton to the list of injured Texans defenders. Also, add his name to the list of players no longer helping special teams coordinator Joe Marciano.
During the first series of the second quarter of Sunday’s game, Sharpton was hurt on a run play during which Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for four yards. He suffered a torn quadriceps muscle. Coach Gary Kubiak says he’ll need surgery, and Sharpton is likely done for the season.
While he has been a consistent backup to Pro Bowl inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans, the impact of losing Sharpton could be seen more during special teams play.
Veteran linebacker Tim Dobbins, who will continue to play on special teams, moves up in the depth chart to replace Sharpton, who entered Sunday’s game against Jacksonville with 12 tackles.
The Texans will likely sign a 3-4 inside linebacker this week to add depth.
Coordinators pulling from Marciano’s stash of handy special teams players is becoming too frequent.
Losing outside linebacker Mario Williams for the year is one of most devastating blows for the Texans defense. Rookie linebacker Brooks Reed has stepped in nicely and has had a sack in each of his last two starts, but his priority is now being a starter on defense, taking from his focus of executing Marciano’s special teams plays.
Safety Dominique Barber, one of the best special teams players the Texans had and backup to Glover Quin, suffered a lisfranc foot fracture during the Week 6 loss to the Ravens. They activated rookie safety Shiloh Keo from the practice squad to fill in for the injured veteran. Keo made is lone tackle during his debut against the Titans and did not appear on the stats sheet after Sunday’s game.
Veteran safety Danieal Manning suffered a fractured fibula and had surgery to repair it after the Week 7 victory over the Titans. Troy Nolan, a good special teamer, has been playing in his absence and moves his focus to being a starter.
After all the injuries and depth chart changes, Dobbins and rookie linebacker Bryan Braman have emerged as two of the best active special teams players to not be named a starter.
If the nasty trend of Texans players to be injured continues, Marciano is going to have slim pickings every time he sends out his 11-man unit during kicks, punts and returns.