Slauson’s block did not draw a penalty, but he was fined $10,000 for it on Thursday by the NFL.
Before the fine was announced, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was asked if he had an opinion on the play.
“Do I have a take on it?” Phillips said. “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t say. 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.
“If a guy’s coming in front of me and cuts me, yeah, he can see that and they can get away from that. But when they don’t see you, I think the league needs to look at something like that. He was defenseless in that case. If the guy would’ve hit him in the head, it would’ve been a penalty because he came from the backside. So I just think they need to take a look at it.”
Phillips did not agree with a reporter’s assertion in a follow-up question that the NFL’s emphasis on player safety applies only to offensive players and does nothing to protect defensive players.
“No, I wouldn’t say that,” Phillips said. “I think the league is trying to do all the right things. They always have. When these cases come up, they look at ‘em and see. We had the horse-collar tackle there for a while, and players got hurt. When something like this happens where players get hurt, I think that the league will look at it.”
The loss of Cushing leaves the Texans without their leading tackler, a defensive captain who was voted by his teammates as the Texans’ most valuable player in 2011.
“Anytime you lose what I call a great player, it’s not helpful to your team, but the other guys stepped up during the (Jets) game, and we expect them to play well the rest of the year for us,” Phillips said. “And the rest of our guys, this team has gone through that. We went through some of that last year where we had really top players out. So we have to do the same thing.”
Cushing had 29 tackles in five games this season. He had a team-high 114 tackles in 2011, 37 more than the next-closest player on the Texans’ second-ranked defense. He also led the Texans with 133 tackles in 2009, when he made the Pro Bowl and was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press.
“We’ve lost players before that were really good players,” Phillips said. “The really great ones… He’s a playmaker. He’s a big-time playmaker. He made a lot of plays. He would’ve made a lot of plays. I thought he was one of the best if not the best inside ‘backer in the league. We coached the Pro Bowl; I thought he was just as good as those guys in the Pro Bowl, and we coached on the AFC side. We’re going to miss him.”