Formula vs. Texans sans Cushing: Run it

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
5:08
PM ET


Heading into Monday night’s game at the New York Jets, we examined ways teams can try to attack the Houston Texans.

One of them was to try to run up the middle, to go after the combination of Shaun Cody or Earl Mitchell at nose tackle and Bradie James at inside linebacker.

Now that Brian Cushing is lost for the year with a torn ACL in his left knee, it looks like a strategy opposing offenses will try even more.

Cushing covers a lot of ground and has a knack for getting to the ballcarrier. Even with him in the lineup, the Texans gave up 140 rushing yards up the middle to Chris Johnson in Week 4 against the Titans. With Cushing out of the mix, other teams equipped to do so will spend time and effort trying to get a running back to the second level right up the gut, where James will be paired with Tim Dobbins for now. Mister Alexander and Jesse Nading are also options.

In a few weeks, Darryl Sharpton could be ready to come off the PUP list and make a contribution.

None of the three inside backers, of course, have Cushing’s skill set or instincts.

And as I wrote coming out of the game, he’s hardly one-dimensional -- offenses fear him as a rush threat and know he can run and cover.

The Texans have vulnerabilities they didn’t have 24 hours ago.

"Next man up" worked for them multiple times last season. Replacing Cushing is a different challenge still.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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