Zach Cunningham led the NFL with 164 combined tackles and 106 solo tackles. The former 2017 second-round linebacker from Vanderbilt is a player other linebackers across the league know about.
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who signed with the Houston Texans in free agency, says that Cunningham is a player he has seen plenty of on tape.
“He’s a guy that I’ve watched a lot of film on,” Pierre-Louis told reporters on a Zoom call on May 20. “I don’t know him personally as of yet, but the dude is talented. He can make plays. The proof is in the film.”
Cunningham was the lone bright spot on a defense that could muster just nine takeaways throughout the 2020 season en route to a 4-12 finish. The 26-year-old collected 3.0 sacks, seven tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble through 16 starts as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to potentially play next to an individual like that,” said Pierre-Louis. “He’s going to bring what he’s been bringing for the past couple of years, so there’s no doubt in my mind that everything is going to go well with him. He’s in the position he’s in for a reason.”
The Texans are transitioning to a Tampa-2 scheme with a 4-3 front. While some linebackers such as Whitney Mercilus will be playing as a down lineman, Cunningham will stay behind as a linebacker. His starting spot is the only one marked in ink at this point of the offseason. Pierre-Louis, who started 11 of his 13 games for Washington last season, is hopeful that he has one of the other two jobs alongside Cunningham locked down when Week 1 arrives.
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