Blake Cashman has made play-after-play, game-after-game this season, at the strongside linebacker spot. He was told back in the spring by the Texans' new coaching staff to take ownership of that spot, and the fifth-year veteran has thrived.
But Denzel Perryman was suspended, and Henry To'oTo'o was out with a concussion, so Cashman was called upon to play the middle (MIKE) linebacker position and lead the way.
He did that, and then some, racking up a career-best 19 tackles, a sack, a pass defensed and a pair of quarterback hits in the Texans 21-16 triumph over the Cardinals at NRG Stadium. A man who played the same position at a Pro Bowl level for the Texans from 2006 through 2011, was especially proud of Cashman's performance.
"Really credit Cashman for stepping up at the Mike linebacker spot, which he hasn't played all year," Head Coach DeMeco Ryans said. "But the way he stepped in and communicated in those pressure moments. It was awesome to see him step up and play big for us today."
Cashman was thrilled the Texans defense was able to stop the Cardinals on their final drive of the game, with cornerback Steven Nelson swatting away a Kyler Murray fourth down pass attempt to get the ball back for Houston.
"It felt great just because it's something we've been emphasizing," Cashman said. "As a defense you take pride in closing out games. There's been a couple instances this year where we haven't been able to do that. So to emphasize it, to practice it, to work on it every week and then to finally have the opportunity to do it and close out, it's great."
That performance by Cashman and the rest of his defensive mates, who held Arizona to just 16 points on the day, wasn't lost on the offense. Right tackle George Fant quickly pointed out how important the defense was to the victory.
"These dudes were making some plays," Fant said. "Those guys played really, really well. Happy for our defense. Happy for our team."
Cashman and the Texans will now get set for a Sunday showdown next week with the Jaguars at NRG Stadium.