The defense of the Houston Texans took a tough bump before their Week 4 game against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday.
Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham and defensive tackle Ross Blacklock has been ruled out with an illness as they both have been placed on the reserve COVID-19 list. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the news on Twitter Friday evening.
Blacklock and Cunningham both played in the first three games of the NFL season. Houston won their first game of the season against the now 0-4 Jacksonville Jaguars, but since then have losses to the Cleveland Browns and the aforementioned Panthers, putting them at 1-2 overall.
As for their replacements, NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweeted the following on Friday night about both Cunningham and Blacklock’s replacements:
Houston Texans: Blacklock, Cunningham are important to the defense in 2021
Losing both defensive players for this Sunday is a huge hit for the Houston Texans, especially not having Cunningham who is a tackles machine for the Texans in nearly every game.
Cunningham had 14 combined tackles last Thursday night for the Houston Texans, including six solo tackles. For the season, he’s collected 11 solo tackles and a combined tackles total of 27. In his advanced stats for the 2021 season through three games, Pro Football Reference has the linebacker with eight blitzes, so that havoc brought on by his pass rush is going to be missed in this game.
As for Blacklock, this season in the first three games the defensive lineman has two QB hits and a sacks, which the sack came against Sam Darnold and the Panthers last Thursday night in Week 3. In the pass rush of Blacklock in ’21, according to advanced stats provided by Pro Football Reference, the second-year player has three QB pressures in ’21, plus one QB knockdown.
With the Houston Texans facing a quarterback with the talents of Josh Allen, losing these two players in such an important game for the Texans hurts the defense tremendously.
Not having both of these players will make a difference in not only how the Texans play defense, but even how Lovie Smith calls plays against the Bills.
If the defense can’t recover from the loss of these two players, all of that will eventually trickle over to the offense, as it could put Houston’s offense behind if the defense struggles too much. Not having both Cunningham and Blacklock is something to remember this Sunday and does the Houston Texans as a team no favors at all.