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Monday, October 25, 2010
Cushing to middle makes sense for Texans

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Gary Kubiak’s had time to pause, ponder and plan. What he came up with following a season-ending Achilles injury to stalwart middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans is this: Brian Cushing is moving over.

I think it makes sense for a couple reasons.


The collection of other candidates for the spot is thin or unqualified. Kevin Bentley is coming off knee surgery. Xavier Adibi is better suited to play outside -- he was Cushing’s fill-in during his four-game suspension. Rookie Daryl Sharpton is inexperienced and fomer Titan Stanford Keglar just joined the team. Interestingly, John McClain reports that Bentley will be put into Cushing’s spot even though Adibi (groin) is expected to be available Monday night in Indianapolis.

Cushing has both a great football IQ and great instincts. I think it’ll be a relatively easy adjustment for him to make after a crash course.

This is the best way for Kubiak and defensive coordinator Frank Bush to get their best three linebackers on the field. Cushing and strong safety Bernard Pollard are good leaders who need to pick up some of Ryans’ role in that department to help offset the loss.

Seems to me Cushing will have an easier time doing so from right splat in the middle of it all.

In addition to adding Keglar, McClain says the Texans dropped defensive tackle Frank Okam in favor of Damione Lewis.

Here's what Mat Williamson of Scouts Inc. had to say when I asked him about Cushing to the middle:
"It is obviously a small sample size, but Cushing hasn't been impressive in 2010. Maybe he was just 'Getting his feet wet' or maybe he was enhanced as a rookie-and isn't now. But let's assume that the 2009 version of Cushing is on the horizon. If so, he can handle the middle. He is quick to recognize and a very good take-on player. I do think he is best off at strongside linebacker, but my guess is that Kubiak trusts him most to make all the calls and be the 'Quarterback of the D' -- which makes sense. He surely will not be as potent of a pass rusher from that spot though and this team is short on rushers other than Super Mario."