On Thursday, the NFL announced the suspension of Houston Texans linebacker Max Bullough. The suspension comes after a violation of the league’s Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) policy. Bullough, 25, will now miss the first 4 games of the 2017 season. Those games will be vs. Jacksonville, @ Cincinnati, @ New England, and vs. Tennessee. The team will rely more heavily on rookie draft pick Zach Cunningham to fill the void left by Bullough’s absence.

Max Bullough signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He has spent his first 2 seasons in the league as a backup inside linebacker, and special teams player. Bullough appeared in all 16 games in 2016, but only started 3 games, when Brian Cushing went down with an injury. Last season, he recorded 25 combined tackles, and spent time learning behind veterans Benardrick McKinney and Brian Cushing.

Houston Texans Take:

While unexpected, the team is well equipped to handle the absence created by the 3rd-year linebacker’s suspension. Last weekend, the Houston Texans selected Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham with the 57th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Now, Cunningham is in position to receive more practice reps during the offseason. Additionally, Cunningham will also begin the year with more responsibilities. As for Bullough, his roster spot is uncertain at this point. While valuable depth, the team may decide to move on if they feel Cunningham is sufficient depth behind McKinney and Cushing. As a result, this story will be one to watch as minicamp and training camp begin to come into focus.