Darryl Sharpton steps in for Brian Cushing

HOUSTON -- When Darryl Sharpton is healthy, he's a very solid inside linebacker.

That's the issue, though. When Sharpton is healthy.

He's been through a slew of injuries in his NFL career which have led to limited action in his previous three seasons. He played in seven games, starting six last year, but began the 2012 season on the physically unable to perform list and ended it on injured reserve. He played in eight games and started none in 2011; he played 12 games and started six in 2010.

Last season Sharpton started next to Bradie James when Brian Cushing went out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. This season, he'll start alongside Joe Mays as Cushing recovers from a torn LCL and broken fibula. Cushing will have surgery this week.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak indicated a decision hadn't been reached yet when asked if it would be Sharpton or Mays who took over as the three-down inside linebacker.

Coming into this season, Sharpton felt confident that his body would cooperate. He also worried about jinxing himself. The tough luck struck again and he was inactive at the start of the season in San Diego.

Since then, Sharpton's been active each week, but he hasn't been injury free.

"The thing about Sharpton is Sharpton hasn’t practiced in two weeks," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "He’s played in both games, but he has not practiced. He’s been bothered by a foot, so we have to continue to work to get him healthy."

There will be a dropoff without Cushing. He's one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL and one of the best players period in run defense. His emotional impact on the Texans' defense is immeasurable.

But if Sharpton can get healthy during this bye week and then stay healthy, it would help dull the sting just a little bit.

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