Houston Texans outside linebacker Duke Ejiofor will miss the 2019 season after tearing his Achilles.
Houston Texans announced Friday afternoon that they have placed second-year outside linebacker, Duke Ejiofor, after suffering an Achilles injury. Texans general manager Brian Gaine drafted Ejiofor in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft after he tumbled down the draft when he underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum during the draft process.
Ejiofor was impressive with the Texans in his rookie season despite his limited production as a rotational pass rusher, he earned the trust of the coaching staff and was allowed to rush the quarterback in passing/blitzing situations.
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His speed, length, and the mixture of pass rush moves in his arsenal were impressive for a rookie defender, so the Achilles injury is a disappointing development early in his NFL career. Ejiofor became the clear cut third option at outside linebacker behind Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus after Brennan Scarlett was placed on the injured reserve with an ankle injury.
A player to monitor with Ejiofor’s season-ending injury is Texans fifth-round rookie draft selection, Charles Omenihu. Drafted from the University of Texas, he fits the mold in what the Texans look for from the edge rusher position.
Ejiofor’s injury could have opened up a path for him to see a bigger role in his rookie season. Although it’s also feasible that the Texans bring in another edge rusher depending on how Omenihu and the other competition plays out. Texans currently have Clowney, Mercilus, Scarlett, Omenihu, Davin Bellamy, Chris Landrum, Jamal Davis, and Jessie Aniebonam as their outside linebackers on the roster.
A minor storyline to keep an eye on is how Ejiofor’s injury accelerates the process Gaine takes in determining Clowney’s long term future with the Texans. Despite the fact that Ejiofor wasn’t in direct contention to taking Clowney’s starting spot, losing Ejiofor for the season weakens the overall strength at outside linebacker, and it brings the spotlight back on Clowney’s future with the Texans.
Gaine placed the franchise tag on Clowney in the offseason, but Clowney has yet to sign the tender as his representatives look for a deal that makes sense financially for the long term. Clowney proved to be productive player last season as he finished with 47 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, nine sacks, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, and one touchdown.