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Houston Texans

Bentley, Adibi step in for Diles


A special teams standout this season, Kevin Bentley will take over for Zac Diles as the starting strongside linebacker.

Zac Diles' season-ending leg injury on Wednesday thrust backup middle linebacker Kevin Bentley into the starting lineup at strongside linebacker and put rookie Xavier Adibi into the mix for his first substantial playing time.

With Diles out and Chaun Thompson nursing a hamstring injury, Bentley and Adibi join DeMeco Ryans and Morlon Greenwood as the only healthy linebackers on the Texans' active roster.

Adibi, a fourth-round pick out of Virginia Tech, has played in only one game this season while dealing with an assortment of injuries and illnesses.

"Kevin will play, but we plan on getting Adibi involved," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said, calling Diles' injury unfortunate but "an opportunity" for the two backups.

Bentley has played in 95 games with 22 starts in his seven-year career, which includes stops in Cleveland and Seattle. He spent the 2005-07 seasons as the fourth linebacker for the Seahawks, filling in at various times at each linebacker spot for starters Leroy Hill, Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu.

"If one of those went down, I had to play," Bentley said. "Pretty much, the last few years, this has been my role. I've done it in Seattle the last few years, and I'm ready."

Bentley leads the Texans in special teams tackles this season but has been limited to a few snaps on defense. He briefly spelled Ryans in Week 4 at Jacksonville and made tackles on two consecutive plays, then returned to the sidelines when Ryans promptly returned.

A vocal player who Ryans describes as "another coach out there on the field," Bentley is knowledgeable enough to thrive at strongside linebacker even though he hasn't played a single game snap at the position since the preseason.

{QUOTE}"Kevin can play anywhere, actually," Kubiak said. "Today, we gave DeMeco a rest, so he played Mike (middle linebacker), he played outside – a very smart player. He's played a lot of football in this league, just hasn't been a starter for a long time. But I expect him to go in there and play well."

Bentley said he doesn't take on any sort of a different mental approach in practice now that he knows he'll be a starter.

"When we go out there and (the coaches) say '2's Up' or '1's Up', I always say '1A,' because it's a mindset," he said. "It really is. It's a mindset. I always prepare as a starter whether I take one rep or I don't take any reps or I play the whole game."

Diles' injury changes things significantly for Adibi, whose only game action this season was at Jacksonville. Prior to that game, Adibi had been hobbled by an Achilles injury since the preseason. After that game, Adibi came down with flu-like symptoms that persisted for a couple of weeks.

Adibi's mysterious illness – he said he still doesn't know what it was – caused his weight to drop and kept his name on the inactives list. But in recent weeks, he has practiced at full speed and been able to gain back most of his weight.

"It's time for him to play," Kubiak said. "He's been through a lot. We've had some issues with him medically… We think we've worked through that. He's flashed in practice as a heck of a player, and now it's time to go find out. So let's sit here and keep our fingers crossed he has a good week and he's ready to go."

An instinctive playmaker who ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, Adibi was expected to make an immediate contribution on special teams and possibly in the linebacker rotation as a rookie.

Those plans were put on hold until now, but Adibi has moved past his issues by maintaining a positive outlook and is ready to step up in Diles' absence.

"People gave me a lot of helpful advice about just dealing with my problems, trying to stay grounded and staying close to the Lord and just praying," Adibi said. "I'm just ready for this opportunity.

"I've been practicing hard, working hard, continuing to study my playbook all the time. It's messed up how this opportunity came about, but it is what it is and you've got to step up when your opportunity comes."

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