Aug 19, 2014; Englewood, CO, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing (56) during a scrimmage against the Denver Broncos at the Broncos Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Waiting in the wings behind the front line stand the line backers. Brian Cushing, all around mad man and field general, the heart of the defense is back to embarrass anyone who thought a second broken leg was going to stop him. Some people are just that good, Cushing is one of those. While fans will hold their breaths on every play for probably the whole season every time Cushing ends up on the ground expect him to survive the season intact and better then ever. Standing next to him will be the ever serviceable Jeff Tarpinian. He showed a lot of smart, hard nosed play during the preseason and seems to have taken to Crennel’s more attack oriented inside linebacker approach with a gusto.
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On the outside, Brooks Reed will take the majority of reps. While the Texans did toy with moving him inside, his strength lies in his ability to play the pass and support the line stopping the run. Reed is versitle as a linebacker and if called upon can move to the inside as the situation arises. Flexibility is something Crennel and O’Brien look for, and Reed has it. That brings us to Jadeveon Clowney. Despite all the billboards bought and fans begging for Johnny Football, the Texans went with the South Carolina defensive standout as the number one overall pick in the 2014 draft. During training camp and in brief stints during the preseason Clowney showed flashes of near super like speed in reaching the backfield. Pulling guards whiffing at grass behind him as Clowney barrels into the backfield giving many an offensive coordinator heartburn. Fans are going to be watching carefully for anytime Clowney and Watt line up on the same side. Reed and Crick are going to have to step up their game as teams start trying to run in the opposite direction. Circle November 16, 2014. Should Manziel be the starter for the Browns when the Texans roll into Cleveland, all eyes will be on #2 and #99 as they battle to show which team made the smarter choice.