Big things expected of ILB Benardrick McKinney

Benardrick McKinney makes an impression.

"When you line up across from him on the field, you know where 55 is," quarterback Brock Osweiler said Monday.

Osweiler's seen the second-year linebacker over the last week, and thinks highly of McKinney.

"B-Mack is a special player," Osweiler said. "He's physically imposing too. He's extremely talented, very athletic. He can stop the run game, he can plug holes, he can shed blocks, but he can also cover backs out

in space, so that makes him an extremely special football player."

Playing next to Brian Cushing on the inside, McKinney said his goals are very simple.

"I'm just trying to get better every day," McKinney said. "We've got older guys like Cushing, Vince Wilfork, looking up to me to make some plays. I'm just trying to be in the right spot. Coach Vrabel is putting me in the best position to make plays. I'm just trying to have fun and play football."

With 11 starts as a rookie in 2015, including the final eight of the season, McKinney made an impact last year. But he's striving for more in his sophomore campaign, and head coach Bill O'Brien has been impressed with his development.

 

"Definitely a much-improved player," O'Brien said. "He's gotten better from where he was at this point last year, not thinking as much now. He's really out there reacting, understanding the defense."

O'Brien said he and the Texans are expecting "a really good year" from McKinney. The linebacker worked on a few things this offseason to get better in 2016.

"I was trying to work on flexibility, and covering tight ends and running backs," McKinney said. "Obviously I need to get better at that aspect of the game. So I've just concentrated on trying to cover."

McKinney and the Texans will practice outside at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Tuesday. 

ILB Benardrick McKinney's career as a Texan and Mississippi State Bulldog is profiled here in pictures.

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