When it comes to starting linebackers, Bill O'Brien would like to keep some surprises for Sunday.
For the first time in ten months, inside linebacker Brian Cushing will start in the Texans regular season opener against Washington.
"That's for sure," O'Brien said.
Also a certainty will be the outside linebackers, No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney and fourth-year veteran Brooks Reed. That leaves one remaining inside linebacker spot which could potentially be filled by a number of players who have impressed in preseason and training camp.
"(Jeff) Tarpinian, Mike Mohamed, Akeem Dent, Whitney Mercilus, they all have a chance to be in there," O'Brien said Wednesday. "And you know, we move those guys around quite a bit. Some guys will play inside, some guys will play outside; it's not like a set four."
O'Brien also mentioned Justin Tuggle and Mike Mohamed among the group of linebackers that could see action next to Cushing. Since his very first press conference as Texans head coach back in January, O'Brien has discussed having a game-plan defense that changes each week for every opponent.
This week has been no different.
"What is the best thing for us versus what the Washington Redskins are going to do? The Redskins are a really, really talented, good football team with a great coaching staff and it's a big challenge for us," O'Brien said. "We're still in the process of putting that game plan together.
"It could be Tuggle, it could be Mohamed, could be Tarpinian, could be Dent," O'Brien said. "It's something you'll have to wait until game day. And 34 isn't the only personnel that we play. So it depends what the first play of the game is, too."
On the Texans injury report released Wednesday, Cushing (ankle), Mohamed (quadriceps), and Tuggle (knee) were all listed as full participants in practice.