Extension in hand, Cushing looks ahead

Extension in hand, Cushing looks ahead
September 4, 2013, 2:00 pm
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McClain weighs in on Cushing's deal

Brian Cushing wants to become the best middle linebacker in football. If he does, he’ll do it as a member of the Houston Texans.

The team assured that on Tuesday, signing Cushing to a six-year extension that will keep the linebacker in Houston through the 2019 season with a deal reportedly worth over $55 million, with $21 million guaranteed.

“What I envision is being the clear-cut best middle linebacker in the NFL,” Cushing said at Wednesday morning’s press conference.

“I’ve never hid that. I’ve never not said that before. It’s something that I want and I think that I can get there. I know that I can get there. Obviously, it’s going to require a lot of work and a couple more years of dominant play. But I feel like I have the tools to do that. It’s one of those things that I’m going to have to continuously work at and obviously stay healthy, but I feel that I can very well do.”

J.J. Watt is probably the face of the Texans’ defense to everyone outside of Houston. Watt had an incredible season and won Defensive Player of the Year.

But without Cushing, the defense wasn’t the same. With Cushing on the field, the Texans won their first five games in 2012, giving up 14.6 points and 275.6 yards per game. In the 13 remaining games (including playoffs) without Cushing, they went 8-5, giving up 24 points and 342.2 yards per game.

“We definitely have a little bit of a rivalry, but at the same time, I think we look at more of ourselves as a duo, kind of a two-headed monster,” Cushing said about Watt. “Two guys that are going to have to be dealt with for a long time that feed off of each other and are really excited to play with one another.”

Cushing is locked up through the 2019 season and Watt’s current contract will take him through the 2014 season. With those two and plenty of other talent, the Texans are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But that’s not what Cushing is thinking about right now.

“I think the biggest thing for this team is keeping our goals short term,” he said. “It’s something that we’ve always done, not setting our sights too far ahead. We always say around here, ‘1-0.’ You can only win the game that’s next and that is San Diego right now.”