Continuing a position-by-position look back at the Texans' 2012 season:
2012 Season in Review: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | OLB
The Texans were decimated by injuries at inside linebacker in 2012, much like their quarterback position in 2011.
Four inside linebackers, including 2011 team MVP
In 2011, many observers felt that the Texans would have been a Super Bowl team had they not lost quarterback
Cushing finished the season with 30 tackles, one forced fumble, two passes defensed and one interception. He had a season-high 13 tackles against Tennessee in Week 4. He had five tackles in less than two quarters of play when he went down against New York.
Dobbins, a seventh-year veteran and special teams captain, moved into the starting lineup at Mo linebacker after Cushing was injured. He started six games and had 35 tackles and four passes defensed. He tied for the NFL lead with a franchise-record four fumble recoveries, all of which came in the last six weeks of the season. Dobbins played through a shoulder injury late in the season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 17.
Sharpton, a third-year veteran, was active from the Physically Unable to Perform list against Jacksonville in Week 11. He had a career-high seven tackles, then started five days later at Detroit on Thanksgiving and had six tackles. In seven games with five starts, Sharpton had 27 tackles, two passes defensed, an interception and a fumble recovery. He suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 17.
2012 Inside Linebackers in Review - Quick Hits
Starters: MLB: Cushing (5 games), Sharpton (5 games), Dobbins (6 games); MO: James (15 games, plus 2 in playoffs), Ruud (1 game plus 1 in playoffs)
Notable number: 1: Ranking of the Texans defense in points (14.0) and yards (273.0) allowed through four games, when Cushing led the team with 25 tackles. From Week 5, when Cushing tore his ACL on an illegal low block by Jets guard Matt Slauson, through the end of the season, they ranked 18th (22.9) and 13th (340.0). In 2011, when Cushing had a team-high 114 tackles, the Texans’ defense ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring (17.4) and second in yards (285.7).
Best game: Week 1 vs. Miami – Cushing was all over the field in the Texans’ 30-10 season-opening victory at Reliant Stadium, racking up seven tackles (six solo), an interception, one forced fumble and one pass defensed. James had four tackles (two solo) in his Texans debut.
Quotable: “He’s our leader. He’s crazy, and so of course we feed off of that. He’s flying all over the field. He’s so reactive. He’s a football player in every sense of the word.”
“I thought it was unnecessary. Whether it was legal or not, all that stuff, I think it’s just unnecessary to hit a defensive player when he can’t see you, when he doesn’t see you.” – Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on Oct. 11 on the hit that knocked Cushing out for the season
“I’ll never forget the pain I was going through, more mentally than anything else, in just having to sit out. When rehab gets stuff and the offseason’s long, I’ll remember those moments, (and think about) just how sweet it will be to come back and play football again.” – Cushing on Oct. 12
“It’s very impressive. Any time you take a significant amount of time off like he has, you’re obviously a little bit rusty. I think he’s done it because he’s played hard. He’s played emotionally. He’s done a great job.” – Kubiak on Nov. 30 on Sharpton’s return from the PUP
“He’s the guy who is basically an expert on Wade’s scheme. There’s been a little bit of a revolving door there with Sharp coming off of injury and with Dobbins being beat up a great deal of the time, and he’s played with Cush for a while and now he plays with Barrett. He’s kind of been a rock. He’s been the one guy who has been consistent and been there all year long.” – Kubiak on James on Jan. 2