HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said that middle linebacker Brian Cushing “won’t be in there for a bit” after spraining his MCL in Sunday’s 24 – 13 win over the Bears. The next man up? Linebacker Max Bullough.
“I thought Max did a nice job in the game,” said O’Brien. “I thought as the game went on Max played better and better.”
Cushing and Bullough have extremely different NFL resumes. Cushing was a first round pick. He won defensive rookie of the year his first season. He’s been a Pro Bowler and Second Team All Pro. Bullough is entering his third year with the Texans after joining them as an undrafted free agent. Still, he and his teammates think he’ll be able to get the job done.
“I’m fully confident,” said Bullough when asked about his confidence level.
“We have a lot of faith in that guy,” said linebacker Whitney Mercilus. “He’s a very, very smart player and it shows in the meeting room. It’s impressive how he understands the game, sees exactly what’s about to happen before it even happens.”
Bullough seems excited for the opportunity, even though he hates seeing his teammate and mentor go down.
“Yeah, you feel for Cush,” said Bullough “Cush is a guy that’s been here since I got here. It’s kind of crazy, one of the three or four linebackers who are still here from even when I got here just three years ago. He’s been here for a while and he’s helped me a lot. I’ve learned a lot from him, so you never want to see a teammate go down regardless of any position. Thoughts are with Cush and I know he’ll be back as soon as he can.”
Ironically, one of the most valuable lessons that Cushing taught Bullough was finding ways to stay healthy.
“Oddly enough in this situation, taking care of your body and trying to stay on the field. Whatever is going on now is unrelated to that. But taking care of your body, it’s all year. You have to take care of yourself all year and make sure you can be on the field.”
Bullough won’t be going at it alone. O’Brien was very complimentary of the depth the Texans have at middle linebacker.
“I think Akeem Dent can come in there and help us too,” said O’Brien. “Brian Peters [too]. So the next guy has to step up. It’s going to be a group of guys that’ll step up and play for us.”
We’ll get a better feel for what Bullough can do in extended reps Sunday. He’s in for a tough test with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, not to mention running backs Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West.
Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – weeknights 7-11 PM on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57 and the Spoiler Alert Podcast – available weekly on iTunes and SportsRadio610.com. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.