As a rookie last season, Brian Cushing exploded onto the NFL scene and made a name for himself as a hard-nosed, athletic linebacker with a knack for being around the football. For his 134 tackles, which tied him for the AFC lead, in addition to four sacks and four interceptions in sixteen games, he was awarded the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award not once, but twice, after a re-vote was ordered by the AP following the news he had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs last season. For punishment, Cushing had to sit out the first four games of this season and the Texans’ defense wasn’t quite the same without him. Now just three weeks back from his suspension, Cushing will have to make a change from his strong-side position to middle linebacker after DeMeco Ryans ruptured his Achilles’ tendon two weeks ago against the Chiefs.
This switch couldn’t come at worse time for the Texans as they are set to play the Colts tonight in Indianapolis where crowd noise will be a factor going against Peyton Manning, who likes to use the hurry-up offense. Instead of simply reading the tight end and dropping into coverage and handling his responsibilities, Cushing will now have to read both the center and guards and have to take on more blockers, and is responsible for making sure others are aligned properly. That seems to be a lot more than what he is used to while playing the strong-side, but he has spent more time in meetings and watching film than at any time since he has been in Houston. If there is anyone that can adjust to this transition, it would be Cushing because he looks like the prototypical middle linebacker and is intense and instinctive as anyone in the league. Brian Cushing on Fox Sports Radio to talk about what he did while serving his 4-game suspension, what he notices about the Texans’ defense that can improve, and whether two weeks is enough to prepare for what Peyton Manning is going to do at the line of scrimmage.
What he did while serving his 4-game suspension:
“I went back home and you obviously know that this is a tough time. I thought that the best time would be with family back home so I just worked out, trained there and lived with the family.”
Whether he knows why he tested positive for PED’s last season:
“We have got a good grasp on it. There has been a lot of medical research that has gone into it. We have got a pretty good handle on why the situation happened. Now the biggest thing is to prevent it from ever happening again and hopefully educating others on it.”
What “over-training athlete syndrome” means:
“Well the thing that most people make a mistake about is thinking that it is over-training that is the part but it is actually the time you take the break from training and certain hormones can get suppressed. During my first camp following my first rookie NFL season I was virtually not unable to do anything when I tore my MCL and LCL in camp. It was a complete shutdown for a guy that has been training since January. The Senior Bowl, Combine, all the stuff you can do, Pro Days and everything. I got shutdown and had a slightly elevated hormone in one of my drug tests unfortunately.”
How close he pays attention to everything that goes into his training regimen:
“You have to, if you are serious in this sport and you want to be pretty good and you want to be as best as possible and you have to. You live the sport, you really do and now I am a pro and all things go towards being the best football player that I can be.”
Whether he trusts any of the labels on the supplements he takes:
“Yeah you really can’t, you know. For the most part you just have to rather go with a label that you trust or get everything approved by the NFLPA, which is a long process but you have to do these certain things.”
What he notices about the Texans’ defense that can improve:
“Well you know it is just finding that little niche, finding that swagger again to get back to where we need to be and we were last year. I think we were in that top-5 in run defense, top-15 in pass and we were really shutting people down, we were confident. Going into camp we were handling our offense pretty well in camp and obviously they are one of the best offenses in the NFL. It is just finding that niche again, finding exactly what we have to do and I think we are right there and we’re confident in that.”
Whether two weeks is enough to prepare for what Peyton Manning is going to do at the line of scrimmage:
“Well he had two weeks to prepare for as well, you have got to put that into account. You are never going to know exactly what he is going to do. He is the best in the NFL for a certain reason and you have to just, with an offense like that you have to limit them as much as possible and keep them off the field as much as you can.”