Cunningham: I’m Gonna Be An Impact Player On This Defense

By Matt Hammond, SportsRadio 610

What does Zach Cunningham bring to the Houston Texans?

Play-making.

“I’m definitely a play-maker,” he said on Friday. “Definitely able to get from sideline to sideline. I’ve got a lot of speed, quickness and agility. I’m able to cover. I’m able to (defend) the run.”

After being selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft by GM Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien, Cunningham said he prides himself on his instincts, intensity and, ultimately, impact.

“Wherever the Texans see fit to put me, I’m definitely gonna be an impact player on this defense,” he said.

It’s what he did at Vanderbilt.

After earning his shot with the Commodores halfway through his redshirt freshman season, Cunningham seized the moment. He started the final five games in 2014, took over the starting role in 2015, and earned All-SEC honors in each of his last two seasons. In his final season at Vandy, he led the team with 125 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and was an AP First-Team All-American.

Cunningham’s finest moment may have come in the Georgia game.

Fourth down. One yard to go. One minute, one second left.

Vandy holding onto a one point lead.

But when Bulldogs running back Isaiah McKenzie took a pitch to the right and tried to turn upfield, he was stoned at the line of scrimmage.

Game over.

“It was a play that we needed,” Cunningham said. “To be in position to make that play. We talked about it on the sideline. That was a play that they possibly could run. “So we went out on the field, and I just took it from there. I saw an opportunity, sniffed it out.”

For a Texans defense that already features JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Benardrick McKinney, Cunningham — who could be inside linebacker or outside linebacker, Smith and O’Brien said — has a chance to do exactly what it is he says he’ll do: make plays.

Matt hosts Saturdays from 1-4 pm on SportsRadio 610. You can, and totally should, follow him on Twitter @MattHammondShow.

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