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Cushing won’t be strictly an inside linebacker

Posted by Nick Scurfield on May 10, 2011 – 6:22 pm

Brian Cushing will be the ‘Mike’ inside linebacker in the Texans’ 3-4 defense, playing on the strongside over the tight end. But like Mario Williams and several other players in the front seven, he’ll move around in a variety of roles.

“We’re going to play him inside most of the time, but sometimes he’s going to be rushing outside,” Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said on Monday at the Texans’ Charity Golf Classic. “It’s what the players can do, and that’s what we try to do with our defense.”

Cushing was an outside linebacker in the Texans’ 4-3 defense in 2009, when he won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award after recording 133 tackles, 4.0 sacks and four interceptions. He played middle linebacker for two games last season after DeMeco Ryans was injured, but he was much more effective after being moved back to outside linebacker.

At the Mike position, the Texans want Cushing to be an anchor in run defense while still providing pressure on blitzes from the inside and outside. Bradie James of the Dallas Cowboys led all NFL inside linebackers with 8.0 sacks from the same position in 2008 under Phillips and Reggie Herring.

“We’re going to start Cush inside,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said on Monday. “That’s where Wade wants to play him and sees that as his best place to be. But remember, Cush has played over the tight end on the ball the past couple years for us, so he can do both.”

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