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It is pretty easy to see, even to the untrained eye, that Brian Cushing is a man on a mission this year. After having off season knee surgery to alleviate pain from an injury from his days at the University of Southern California, he certainly is looking like he wants to play at the Pro-Bowl caliber of his rookie season in 2009.
During the 2010 season, Cushing had a pretty tough time staying healthy enough to practice, but managed to find his way to the field on Sundays. That is, after he served his four game suspension for failing to pass a drug test during the preseason following his rookie year. Traces of hCG, a chemical that is often used to increase natural testosterone during cycles of steroid use. On top of that, he was forced to move out of position to help fill the void that was left when Demeco Ryans was put on IR with a torn Achilles tendon.
So it is was only natural for Cushing to become a target for the anger and disappointment for so many let down Texans fans. During the off season, he faced accusations that he wouldn’t be able to play at the high level of his impressive rookie season without being on the juiced. He even had to deal with his fellow linebackers in the NFL making statements that he was “…juiced out of his mind…”
All of this has made his play at the start of the 2011 season even more impressive. After missing the first few days of training camp trying to make sure he was ready to return after knee surgery, he hasn’t looked back once. Through the first five games, Cushing leads his defense with 36 tackles and one sack. While that might not impress the layperson, it has sure made an impression on the rest of his defensive teammates. Defensive captain Antonio Smith has made it a point on several different occasions to say just how pleased he is to have a player of Cushing’s caliber on his side of the bal.
Granted, Antonio Smith might have a slight bias when talking about Cushing to the media, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t on to something. If Cushing is able to continue playing at this high level, he will be a shoo-in for a trip to Hawaii in late January.
You heard it hear first.
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