What is probably the number-one question coming out of OTA’s from Houston Texans fans, other than how to get rid of Matt Schaub, was how Brian Cushing was recovering from his devastating ACL injury that caused him to miss the final eleven games of 2012. If you ask him, he’ll be in camp on day one, in pads and ready to go. While I think Cushing would probably suit up even if his leg was dangling by a thread, it’s hard to dispute his claims when team doctors have said he will be cleared to return to full action on July 17.
The next question that seems to come up in regards to Cushing is when the team will begin negotiations on an extension for the All-Pro linebacker; and it’s a loaded question, indeed.
Prior to last season, we had never seen a recovery from an ACL injury quite like the one that Adrian Peterson displayed. Now, most fans think that this will be the rule more than the exception. While I agree that modern medicine has come a remarkably long way, to assume that all hard working athletes will have the same recovery Peterson did is being a little gullible. He is clearly a special, gifted athlete and I wouldn’t be quick to use him as the bar for ACL surgery recovery. However, Cushing has one of the highest work ethics I have ever seen and if anyone else can do it, it would be him.
But to pretend there aren’t questions, or even doubts, would be wearing the battle-red-tinted glasses a little too long. Some, if not most that have suffered this injury, at Cushing’s position come back and are never quite the same. The effort is still there, but the explosion is gone. So before the Texans start throwing out the silly money that Cushing has very clearly earned, they must exercise a little caution. As high as hopes are that he is the same player when he comes back, the team will very clearly wait to see just how he looks in game action before even opening negotiations, and that’s the right decision.
All players say that they understand that it is a business until it reflects upon them in a negative fashion. However, Cushing seems to be the professional type that isn’t going to whine about his contract situation and understands how the game works. Unlike when DeMeco Ryans ran his mouth about his deal, Cushing knows that if he goes out there and does what he had been doing prior to his injury, the money will take care of itself. The only comment he has said about the situation that is worth noting is that he wants to retire a Texan.
The situation that no Texans fan wants to face is the possibility that their defensive captain won’t be the same guy as he was prior to the injury. His intensity, leadership and dominant play missing was the main culprit behind the Texans defense going from one of the best to the lower third of the NFL after his trip to the injured reserve. You may think one linebacker can’t make a difference that big, but it very clearly did in 2012. J.J. Watt had one of the most dominating seasons I can recall witnessing in all my years watching this game, but the Texans need their captain back to full strength in 2013 if they want to make a run at the Lombardi.
If he comes back to full strength and everything looks to be checking out okay, I put the chances at zero percent that a deal doesn’t get worked out before the end of the season. Just be patient, Texans fans. Cushing is.