Brian Cushing will be a Houston Texan for a long time. He’s back from a season-ending injury and in his words “stronger.”
Cushing, the ’09 Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, suffered a season-ending torn ACL last season, but his body of work, plus his overall potential has garnered him a six-year $55.6 million deal (with $21 million guaranteed) according to reports from the USA TODAY.
Though the extension hasn’t been officially announced by the Texans, it come in the final year of Cushing’s rookie contract.
As for the Monday night season opener against the San Diego Chargers, the inside linebacker said it was a little soon to talk about the Chargers as he spoke to the Houston media Tuesday.
“I think it’s a little too soon,” Cushing said. “We obviously know what their personnel is, what kind of stuff they run but we haven’t completely locked in on them.
“Later this week we will, but right now we’re just taking care of us and trying to get in the best shape we can. We’ve got these two extra days, so really trying to capitalize on that.”
Cushing also spoke about playing on the stage that is Monday Night Football, as Houston will play on the road in San Diego at 10:15 p.m EST on ESPN.
“That’s what you want. You want the prime time spotlight,” he said. “To have that, it’s something that we’ve earned over these past couple years and people want to see us play and we want to play for the fans. We want to go out there and have a great game and show America what we’re all about.”
Then there was the topic of returning from his ACL tear he suffered last season. The former Pro Bowl selection said he feels that he even better than he was before the injury.
In his career before suffering the ACL tear Cushing had collected 242 tackles and 9.5 sacks since his rookie season of ’09. He played in just five games last season.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve been through a pretty tough year,” Cushing said. “I think it’s made me stronger mentally and physically from this. I also don’t take anything for granted anymore.
“Every single practice I go out there and I’m excited. I know I’m back. Six or seven months ago I wasn’t anywhere near that. So I mean, just the road to recovery, being back has made me just a better person overall.”
Cushing is embracing being able to recover in time for the start of the ’13 season.
“I think it will all sink in when we play San Diego and realize I’m really back,” he said. “Preseason is over and it’s really time to go four quarters. It’s time to go dominate and return to the player I know that I am and get this team going again.
“It’s a very exciting time for me and there’s a lot to look back on but at the same time, it’s time to start the season.”