Houston Texans: Benardrick McKinney out for season; what’s next?

Houston Texans inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports /
Houston Texans, Benardrick McKinney
Houston Texans inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Texans will be without linebacker Benardrick McKinney for the rest of the 2020 season.

The Houston Texans will now see who and what talent they have at inside linebacker for the remainder of the 2020 season. Coming off their first win of the year this past Sunday, the Texans now have to work not just Week 5, but reportedly the remainder of the season as Benardrick McKinney will be out with a shoulder injury.

McKinney this season in four games played with just one pass defensed, no sacks, 19 solo tackles, one tackle for loss and no QB hits. McKinney in 2019 played in 14 games where he had 54 solo tackles, one sack, four QB hits and four tackles for loss, plus three passes defensed. This season, McKinney played in 66 percent of snaps (234 plays).

This past Sunday, in the first Houston Texans win of the season — where they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 30-14 — McKinney missed the game with the shoulder injury, and Zach Cunningham took over in a big way for the Texans. Cunningham stepped up with seven tackles (three solo) one sack and two tackles for loss. Tyrell Adams also had seven tackles in the game (six solo) with one tackle for loss.

Other inside linebackers on the roster are: Dylan Cole and Peter Kslambayi (who was also inactive on Sunday). The Texans have also signed Kyle Emanuel, an inside linebacker from the Las Vegas Raiders.

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In a report by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, he stated the following on Twitter about the injury according to his source:

Houston Texans: What do they do at inside linebacker for rest of 2020?

Before he was injured, Pro Football Focus had Benardrick McKinney graded this season at 53.4, which was much lower than his 67.6 grade for all of the 2019 season. During McKinney’s Pro Bowl season of 2018, he was graded by PFF at 80.9, a season where he had 78 solo tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.

Looking at the current inside linebackers on the roster of the Houston Texans, it would be nice to see what Adams can do paired with Cunningham moving forward. Adams this season Is graded at 70.0 this season in his reserve role.

In five games (one start), Adams has collected 89 snaps to his credit on defense, and 74 special teams snaps. What could also help Adams in his increased playing time in replacing McKinney is having a defensive-minded interim head coach being Romeo Crennel, who, with defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, can only help improve the play of Adams moving forward.

Losing Benardrick McKinney isn’t good news any way you look at it — and he’s signed though the 2023 season — so a healthy return will be welcomed in 2021, but the only positive for the rest of this season is being able to see what Cunningham and Adams can do as the inside linebacker duo.

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Here is to wishing McKinney a speedy recovery, and for the Houston Texans, hoping they have the depth they’re going to need at inside linebacker the remainder of the season.