Houston Texans star inside linebacker Brian Cushing has been one of the most unlucky players on the injury front over the last couple of seasons, as he’s played in just a combined 12 games in 2012 and 2013 due to two season-ending injuries. That’s almost as bad luck as Rob Gronkowski, and the Texans sorely miss one of their leaders and best players. Cushing can make plays in the passing game (he had four picks and ten passes defended as a rookie), and he’s also a menace in run defense. The drop-off between him and his replacements were vast, and the Texans front seven will be absolutely nasty with him, J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Louis Nix next season.
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Cushing isn’t sure when he’ll start going at “full speed”, but the 27-year-old USC product “knows” that he isn’t missing the Texans Week 1 opener against the Washington Redskins. That’s solid, re-assuring news, but it also would have been a huge surprise for him to miss regular season time. Cushing, who is on a steeply escalating contract that contained $21 million in guaranteed money when he signed it, needs to stay healthy going forward, so I’m sure the Texans will continue to take the cautious route with one of their most important players.
Last month, Cushing was expected to be ready for the start of training camp, and I’m not ready to change that expectation just yet. That said, nobody should be surprised if he is eased back into things in camp, and the important thing is Cushing’s long-term health and, more specifically, finally playing a full season’s worth of games in 2014.