"High ceiling" for Benardrick McKinney

Brian Cushing sees big things in Benardrick McKinney's future.

"Very talented football player with a high ceiling," Cushing said. "You want guys who love football in your room. I think we've got a bunch of those. We've got a really good group of linebackers in our room, him being one of them."

Cushing was recently at a community event and talked some football afterward. The subject drifted to the 2015 rookie's performance. A second round draft pick out of Mississippi State, McKinney finished with 58 tackles. Seven of those were a tackle for loss, and he wound up starting 11 contests. The 7-year

veteran saw a lot of growth from McKinney throughout last autumn.

"You can see the progression in his game from week-to-week, and the kind of level he was playing at towards the end of the season," Cushing said. "He's a very good counterpart. Someone I'm excited to play again with this year and see him grow some more."

Cushing led the team with 110 tackles, but was happy to have a counterpart inside like McKinney. He also said it was clear when McKinney turned a proverbial corner as a professional.

"It was the Cincinnati Monday night game," Cushing said of the Week 10 victory over the Bengals. "Just seeing him play and blowing up a couple of screens. Diagnosing the plays and really having a nose for the ball. It was something we obviously hoped for with him. He really showed that night, and had no fear going in after it. That's something you can go to battle with every week."

Cushing, McKinney and the Texans are currently working out on their own at NRG Stadium. But they'll all be together again in mid-April for the start of the team's offseason conditioning program.

*How excited are you about Benardrick McKinney's future? Please leave a comment in the section below.

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