HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – Brian Cushing is ready for the 2013 season, playing along side newly added nine-time Pro Bowler Ed Reed and under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for a third season.
“I think every year with Wade is just a confident, confident year. Our scheme doesn’t change that much but the players are there and in place and we just have a lot of confidence and coming back now and being healthy, it’s a good feeling around the building. We have Ed Reed coming back now. Brooks Reed is going to be fully healthy. Jonathan Joseph is going to be healthy and we just have the right (pieces in place). It feels good and I don’t even know if J.J. Watt can get better but he was playing hurt last year so on top of it we just have of guys going in the right direction. It feels good. It’s going to be fun lining up with all those guys again,” Cushing told ESPN’s John Clayton.
Cushing is also expected to be cleared to play following a torn ACL that ended his 2012 season after just five games. Cushing says that under Phillips’ 3-4 scheme, blitzing will be key to his role.
“Well the biggest thing is you won’t see me, as they say, running the paint as the other linebackers do, like a Derrick Brooks or Brian Urlacher streaking down the field and covering deep passes. You won’t see me doing any of that kind of stuff. With a 3-4 defense, what Wade Phillips wants out of his middle linebackers is an athletic guy who is very active and can cover. You’ll see me blitzing a lot: up the middle, off the edge and then at the same time I’ll be covering tight ends and running backs and third downs. If I have the confidence in myself and Coach Phillips has the confidence in me, we just established a tremendous relationship as far as trust, as a coach, as a player. He’s put a lot of trust in me and it just makes me want to live up to it.”
With the Texans winning the AFC South for two straight years, Cushing still remembers the toughness of facing the division rival Indianapolis Colts under Peyton Manning. Up-tempo offenses like the one run by Manning still prove challenging, both physically and mentally.
“Actually I remember being a rookie and watching the lineman run back to the huddle as fast as they can and it just seemed like they never got tired and it’s got some kind of mental effect on you when you see that and you see how fast they are going,” said Cushing.
“Miami tried doing it to us the first game of the year last year and the team is just better conditioned when they practice that and they come out and they’re just in a better condition than most other teams are. When they’re rattling off plays, you really don’t have a chance to set in or knock around a rookie quarterback and blitz him and really get him off his game because he’s just getting back to the line quick and getting play after play after play off. Eventually you can slow it down but that first quarter, quarter and a half, is always tough and it’s definitely not playing a no-huddle offense.”
Entering his fifth season in the NFL, Cushing also spoke highly of teammate J.J. Watt. Watt, named Defensive Player of the Year, recorded a breakout season with 20.5 sacks, 81 tackles, and 16 deflected passes.
“He’s incredible. There’s no other word for him and you won’t hear me talk too many guys up because it’s hard to get me to give you some credit but he’s one of those guys that he’s truly the best at what he does,” said Cushing. “The combination of speed, power, how he plays, his endurance, his smarts, and the scary part is this is his second year. I mean, he hasn’t even hit his peak yet and just things that he’s going to be able to accomplish here are unbelievable. When you talk about the potential that he has of really being maybe the greatest defensive player ever, he could be and I know that’s very premature but he’s that kind of player and I think if he just keeps on doing what he’s doing and obviously he stays healthy, he’s on that track.”
Cushing, who missed the final 11 games of the season, OTAs and minicamp, is expected to return for Texans training camp July 26 after being cleared by surgeon James Andrews this month.