Much has been made of the potential return to health for Houston Texans middle linebacker Brian Cushing. The former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has been through a gauntlet of injuries, including ACL tears in both 2012 and 2013.
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The good sign for Cushing and the Texans is that the former USC standout made it through last season and only missed two games.
The bad sign is that at times he looked like a shell of himself on the field as he never seemed to hit his full speed.
Sean Pendergast of Houston Press highlighted the struggles he noticed in the often-injured linebacker in an article where he discusses what the future for Cush may look like.
"All the evidence we needed to see about where Cushing was physically lasts season we saw on the Monday night game in Pittsburgh, when running back Le’Veon Bell got loose from the backfield on a third down and took a short pass route 43 yards for a first down, a game changing play in a season altering three minute sequence in that game.Cushing looked like he was stuck in mud on that Bell catch and run. Probably felt like it, too, since he would wind up with zero solo tackles in that game and would sit out the following week with knee pain."
Pendergast goes on to say that he will believe the reports that Cushing looks better when he sees it on the field.
Maybe the pessimism on Cushing is warranted as it isn’t often a player with so many bad breaks ever truly stays healthy.
What is for sure is that draft status, contractual obligation or name recognition guarantees nothing in the NFL, especially with Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. This means for Cushing to stay with Houston beyond this season, he has to prove to be the player he once was. Otherwise, O’Brien will cut the cord and let youth be served on defense like he has done with the offense thus far.