The Houston Texans defense is asking a lot of inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney. The third-year veteran lost his running mate and mentor, Brian Cushing, who is sidelined with both a concussion and a 10-game suspension for PEDs.
That’s a lot on his plate, but defensive coach Mike Vrabel believes McKinney is handling it very well. Vrabel, in his first year as the coordinator after being McKinney’s position coach, lauds the mental development of his protege.
“I think that the overall thing, the biggest thing, has just been his leadership, his demeanor out there on the field, his communication, his understanding,” Vrabel said of McKinney during his Thursday press conference.
The coach continued,
“It’s not easy going from one position inside to another. It’s a completely different look, completely different side, different calls, different checks. He’s embraced it. But, being a young player, looking at him over the past couple years, his leadership has really skyrocketed and his communication.”
McKinney leads the Texans in both tackles, with 17, and sacks with two. His steady play and improved recognition and diagnosing skills have helped mitigate the loss of longtime defensive leader Cushing.
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