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The Houston Texans unsung defensive heroes

Who says fifth rounders don’t belong on Sportscenter?

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Houston Texans v New Orleans Saints Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

While a lot of eyes are on Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, wide receiver Tank Dell and EDGE Will Anderson Jr., a few other players are getting after it in H-Town.

One who’s really stepped up this season is Blake Cashman. Drafted late in 2019, the fifth-year linebacker is flourishing in DeMeco Ryans’ defense, currently carrying a career-high 90.3 PFF grade. For those unfamiliar with PFF grades, 90s is Pro Bowl territory. Vaunted rookie phenom Will Anderson Jr.’s highest rating so far this season? 85.7.

So far in 2023, Cashman has 21 solo tackles, 10 assists, six tackles for loss and one interception.

Defensive spotlight: Texans linebacker Blake Cashman was everywhere on defense as the Saints were trying to execute their comeback. He recorded 15 combined tackles and multiple tackles for loss, as well as a forced incompletion in coverage. A former fifth-round pick, Cashman played a big part in the Saints not being able to get points at the end of drives.

By year five, a players fate of career backup, locked in starter or perennial Pro Bowler is fairly well-sealed.

Cashman is bucking that trend.

He ended his rookie season with a 49.1 rating, then 2020 brought his best fun year to date with a 64.6 rating. Barely enough to consider him a quality back up.

2021 saw a major regression, with a 29.1 rating, before bouncing back a bit last season with a 54.0 rating.

So far in 2023 his lowest game rating was last week’s assault on the New Orleans Saints resulting in a 74.0 effort.

It also helps when you’re humble:

Speaking of surrounded by dawgs, just wait until more players return from the injury list post-bye week. Cashman and crew should give Bryce Young and the Carolina Panthers a game to remember.