Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly has already made his presence felt after the Houston Texans‘ first two offensive series.
In the first series, the Texans easily moved the ball down the field, having a first and goal inside the 5 yard line. Kuechly made 4 tackles on that series, two of them being great run-stuffing tackles on their goal-line stand, forcing the Texans to settle for a field goal.
On the next series, Kuechly stripped RB Arian Foster of the ball around midfield while teammate Sherrod Martin recovered it.
Doing the math, Kuechly was the driving force behind the defense on 5 of his first 9 plays as a pro. He started at the MLB spot that I had thought he’d start at when he was drafted, but Jon Beason had been playing the position during camp with Kuechly playing the weakside linebacker.
Since it’s the first preseason game, I wouldn’t read anything into him starting at MLB.
It may be that coach Rivera wanted to get some snaps under the young man’s belt in his first game from his “natural” position where he’s comfortable whereas Beason has played both positions in the past. It could be that Rivera simply wanted to rest Beason in the contest so that younger players could get more snaps as well. There have been a lot of changes with the injuries last year so it makes sense that the coaches wanted to try different combinations and get more looks at them now.
It’s not a secret that Beason, a 3-time Pro Bowler, will be in the starting lineup come opening day.
It also appears that Kuechly, never exactly a secret himself, has put the league on notice that he has arrived, too.