From torn ACL to six-year extension

From torn ACL to six-year extension
September 4, 2013, 1:45 pm
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A cut block flung Brian Cushing to his back. The Texans’ star middle linebacker immediately grabbed his knee and began violently rocking back and forth in pain.

It was Oct. 8, in the fifth game of the Texans’ 2012 season. His year was over. His NFL future was in jeopardy.

Almost 11 months later, on Wednesday, Cushing sat in front of the Houston media as the team announced a new six-year extension.

“It was a very dark time,” Cushing said. “Any previous injury before that was maybe missing a game or two and, now, having the season taken away from me, watching the guys go out to practice every day and not being able to contribute, was a helpless feeling. It was something that I didn’t want to feel any more and kind of motivated me to get back and to push every single day.

“Now, looking back on it, I think it’s obviously made me a stronger person, both physically and mentally. I’m just real happy now and, looking back, it’s definitely made me stronger.”

Cushing wasn’t cleared to play football until July 17 and didn’t participate in team drills to start training camp. He played just 30 snaps in the preseason. On Tuesday, before the news of the deal broke, Cushing said he had plenty of snaps. Apparently, the Texans shared that view, extending Cushing for six years in a deal that is reportedly worth over $55 million with $21 million guaranteed.

It might be surprising to some that the Texans extended a player coming off a major surgery before seeing him play in a regular season game. Even Cushing said he was slightly surprised, but the team had been monitoring Cushing’s recovery very closely.

“I’m pretty involved in all of our medical decisions and rehab protocols and processes,” general manager Rick Smith said. “I spend a lot of time with (head athletic trainer) Geoff Kaplan, (Dr.) Walt Lowe and (coordinator of rehabilitation) Roland (Ramirez) in all the rehabilitation situations but this one was obviously pretty important and so I think I might have spent a little extra time with them on this one. Trust me, I knew every rep. I knew every exercise. I knew what he was doing and we followed it pretty closely.”

And Smith knew about every rep because Cushing told him. Well, actually, he showed him. During his recovery, Cushing sent Smith photos and videos to show his progress. The videos were of Cushing squatting and box jumping.

“It’s just another motivating factor,” Cushing said. “Having Rick’s trust and the organization that they proved to do something like this makes me want to go out and prove them right. I’ve never been more excited to play football than I am right now. Having this year taken away from me, a lot of critics out there asking whether or I’ll be back or whatnot or what kind of form I’ll return to, I think anyone that knows me and my kind of work ethic knows that I’ll be back and better than ever.”

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