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Brian Cushing's means that the Texans could have real trouble protecting the middle of the field.
Houston may have won its Monday night game against the New York Jets, but that victory came at a heavy price.
The Texans lost star inside linebacker and defensive signal-caller Brian Cushing to a torn ACL. Cushing was hit with a low block by Jets guard Matt Slauson and is out for the rest of the season.
That’s a huge blow to the Texans’ defense. Cushing’s biggest impact came against the run, but he was also very skilled in coverage. His replacement for this week will be seven-year veteran Tim Dobbins.
Dobbins actually played under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in San Diego, so he has some experience in Phillips’ defensive system. But he isn’t the dynamic force that Cushing was on the defensive end, and Rodgers will look to take advantage of that.
In his game preview, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn assessed both Dobbins and fellow inside linebacker Bradie James, saying:
Dobbins, with 17 starts in seven years, is well-versed in Phillips' defense but is little more than a run-down player. James, 31, can't run at all anymore and is extremely vulnerable in space.
That’s it. Those are the guys you attack.
Without Cushing, the Houston inside linebackers don’t have the ability to stick with the Packers’ receivers or tight ends. That gives Rodgers two solid ways to attack Houston—the deep ball and the middle of the field.
Obviously the Houston defense is still tough, and Rodgers and the Packers have their work cut out for them. But cracks have begun to emerge.
Rodgers will have some ways to attack the Texans defense, and it might even be enough to leave Houston with a win.