HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – It’s been 10 days since Brian Cushing tore his LCL and broke his leg against the Kansas City Chiefs. And while the Texans haven’t played a game since, his absence has already been noticed.
“You’re…missing a a vital part of your defense,” said linebacker Brooks Reed. “A defense that’s built around him.”
“I could kind of sense Monday that Cushing wasn’t on the field from an emotional stand point,” said head coach Gary Kubiak. “But we had to adjust to that last year so we’ll have to do that again.”
Filling the hole left by Cushing certainly won’t be easy. There are few players in the league able to replicate this kind of intense emotion.
“Obviously you’re going to miss a guy like Cush,” said J.J. Watt. “The plays he can make, the leadership he brings, he’s a great football player.”
Playing without Cushing is something the Texans are used to. They were without him the final 12 games of last season after he tore his ACL against the New York Jets.
“Just like in years past, the guy behind him has to know and try and do as good of a job – if not better – than the guy that was playing in front of him,” said Reed. “That’s just your responsibility as a professional. To be ready at all times. So these guys don’t really have an excuse to not perform.”
“It’s never one guy,” continued Watt. “On offense, defense, special teams, one guy is never gonna win or lose you a football game. Myself included…Anytime you lose a player it’s a tough situation. But I feel we have the type of guys, we have the type of locker room that we’re gonna go out there and we’re gonna do what we need to do to get it done.”
Still, it’s one thing to play in Cushing’s place. It’s entirely another to be just as productive as an All-Pro caliber player, let alone bring his intangibles to the table every Sunday. Who is capable of filling that void?
“It’s gonna call for some other guys to be vocal,” said Kubiak. “I think Joe Mays has got more confidence in what he’s doing. Unfortunately we’ve been down this road before and some guys will have to step up.”
Watt noticed that same confidence in Mays, and pointed out that fellow defensive end Antonio Smith and cornerback Johnathan Joseph have each played their part in these past 10 days. If that isn’t enough, Watt said it’s on him to pick his game up.
“I’ve always been a guy who’d try and let my play do the speaking,” said Watt. “56 made some great plays out there. If I need to make a couple more plays, I’ll make a couple more plays. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win football games. And that’s that plain and simple.”
We all know this defense isn’t as talented with Cushing shelved for the season. But it’ll be interesting to see how the Texans fare against the Colts without the leadership of 56. And even more so, to see if anyone can step up in his stead.
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