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Texans’ top LB Zach Cunningham to miss Sunday’s game against Bills

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Houston Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham has been placed on the NFL’s Reserve/COVID-19 list and won’t play against the Buffalo Bills. Cunningham didn’t test positive but is an unvaccinated close contact of another teammate, rotational defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. Blacklock is obviously also out against Buffalo, as well.

Cunningham led the NFL in tackles last season as the middle linebacker in the Texans’ defense and signed a four-year deal this offseason. He’s expected to be replaced by Kamu Gruger-Hill. He’s played 91% of Houston’s defensive snaps at this point

A 2020 second-round pick, Blacklock was Houston’s top reserve defensive tackle, playing 36% of the team’s snaps to this point. Their defensive line rotation is sure to take a hit.

The Texans will also be without slot receiver Danny Amendola, who like starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, has a hamstring injury. RB Scottie Phillips has a non-COVID illness and DeShaun Watson won’t play.

Even with those two players, they’ve averaged more than 25 points allowed per game to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and Carolina Panthers.