A Healthy Brian Cushing Will Go A Long Way In Helping The Houston Texans Make A Drastic Turnaround In 2014
The Texans and Cushing have yet to set a date for his return to the field during training camp, but Cushing himself on multiple occasions has said that he has no worries about being ready for week 1 against the Redskins. Being ready for the first game of the season has been the main focus for Cushing throughout this entire process.
Cushing was cleared and declared himself 100% many weeks ago, but because of his importance to the team we have wanted the assurance of Cushing being fully healthy by seeing him participate in the off-season activities with the team.
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When Cushing had his ACL torn in 2012 in the first week of October he didn’t begin to start running until about the middle of the following Spring. The ACL tear was more significant than the broken fibula and torn LCL that he suffered in Mid-October this past year, and he was able to start running again towards the end of winter.
Luckily Cushing avoided suffering another ACL tear because it would have been extremely hard for him to have been able to comeback and return the same player after suffering that injury in consecutive seasons.
Last year Cushing participated in training camp from the start, but this year even though he was able to begin doing things much sooner he is starting off training camp on the PUP (Physically Unable To Perform) list, but can come off of it any anytime.
The Texans apparently want to be extremely cautious bringing back Cushing this time around and slowly acclimate him into football activity. Ultimately it may be the best way to go, he is likely to be able to go full speed sooner and be more confident when he finally gets on the field because of all the extra time he has gotten to work on strengthening his legs compared to last year.
At the Bill O’Brien’s introduction as the new head coach back in February, Cushing was extremely confident in his rehab and where he was in his recovery. He compared the 2012 and 2013 processes as “night and day” and even felt as though he would be a full go for OTAs.
Since Bill O’Brien’s arrival to the Texans there hasn’t been as much light shed on the injuries of players. But because of how confident Cushing was early on and how confident he is on being ready week 1, I am assuming that the fact that Cushing hasn’t been on the field yet is purely precautionary.
Brian Cushing is undoubtedly the leader of the Texans defense, and they lack a certain toughness/identity when he is not on the field. The absolute turning point of the 2013 season happened in the Seahawks game, but had Brian Cushing never left that game with a concussion, allowing Russell Wilson to roam the field freely, perhaps the Seahawks never get the opportunity to make the comeback.
After he went out in 2012 the Texans defense never maintained the same defensive prowess, and was more apparent, due to 2013’s laundry list of problems.
I am anxious to see how Brian Cushing will be able to perform in Romeo Crennel’s defense and behind what could be a vicious defensive line. In the past Brian Cushing was forced to take on a good amount of blocks from offensive lineman because Cody/Mitchell didn’t required multiple blockers, and the outside linebackers didn’t require extra attention. With opposing defenses now having to account for Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt, and a big nose tackle, Brian Cushing is likely to see a lot more open lanes to make plays.
We know that Watt is going to demand multiple blockers at times, and at South Carolina Clowney often saw multiple blockers. If Louis Nix can emerge and become that Nose tackle that soaks up offensive lineman, we could see Cushing’s best season yet because of much how free ground he will be able to cover.
Brian Cushing was the team MVP after the 2011 season, and was starting to creep into the discussion of best linebacker in the NFL. He has since had two seasons taken away from him, and with it Pro Bowls, All-Pro recognitions, and possibly runs at the defensive player of the year award because he was certainly at that level.
Hopefully Cushing can remain healthy from here on and recoup some of the accolades, and remain a great player for years to come.