The Houston Texans are counting on linebacker Benardrick McKinney to be the man in the middle. With the safety net of Brian Cushing gone, McKinney is now the grizzled vet of the Texans linebacker corps.

So far, he’s wearing the greater responsibility well. Coach Bill O’Brien certainly thinks so.

O’Brien spoke quite highly of the fourth-year backer after Tuesday’s minicamp session.

“He’s probably – I don’t want to speak for him – but when you look at the numbers, you look at his body comp numbers, his weight room numbers, he’s probably in the best shape of his career,” O’Brien declared. “It shows out here on the field. He’s become a leader now going into his third year. I think he’s a very important part of our team and I’m glad he’s on our team.”

McKinney notched 62 solo tackles and added three sacks in 2017. HIs coverage ability continued to improve in the middle of the defense.