The Houston Texans linebacker is primed for his best season yet as a member of the Houston Texans defense.
Houston Texans inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney is set to begin his fifth season with the franchise, and this is the year to be even more excited than ever for the defensive standout as it could become the season where he takes another step in his NFL career.
McKinney is coming off a 2018 season where he totaled 105 tackles — with 42 assisted and 63 solo — along with 1.5 sacks and one interception, the first of his career. The interception came against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 23 in a 32-30 loss for the Texans.
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The question you might be asking is what are the reasons for the impending excitement for the 2019 season?
For starters, one of the reasons is how McKinney has grown as a leader for the team. According to Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, McKinney has emerged as a leader on the defense this offseason, stating the following in transcripts provided by HoustonTexans.com.
"“He’s one of our better players and leaders. He has a real good grasp of our defense. He’s here every day, very consistent guy, high-performing guy, smart player, tough player, dependable player.”"
Being consistent is an understatement for McKinney because though he might not be the biggest star on the defense, he’s only missed two games in his career, and those two games were during his rookie season. Since then, McKinney has played three straight seasons without missing a game, and in those three seasons he has had two of them bring 100-plus tackles and the other season with 95 tackles.
McKinney was ranked ninth in liners for the 2018 NFL season by Pro Football Focus, with a grand of 81.3. McKinney had a run defense grade of 89.2 and a coverage grade of 70.6 in a total of 988 snaps played.
Sack numbers are down each season for McKinney, but he’s a player who can play varying spots on the defense as he’s not a main pass rusher for the unit.
In another press conference earlier this week on Tuesday, O’Brien had this to say about McKinney and what he brings to the team.
"“He has to be all over the field, he has to play the run, he has to play the pass, he has to get the call in after every play, he has to coordinate everything and make calls. So, I have a ton respect for that position and I have a ton of respect for B-Mac and the way he plays it …”"
That is the type of player the Texans need more of, as not only is his consistency of staying on the field key, but he also is versatile in how he can play the game.
The 2019 season could be very special for McKinney, and he’s a player who needs to be watched.
McKinney helps make those around him better, and his teammates do the same. The Texans have a chance to be a top defense if all goes well, and for that to happen, a leader like McKinney is a great player to have calling the shots.
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