Inside linebacker Brian Cushing is making steady progress in his rehab.
The Texans' defensive captain and 2011 MVP is out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, but he has been at Reliant Stadium just about every day since he was injured in Week 5 at New York, working feverishly to get back on the field in 2013.
"I'm doing great," Cushing said on Friday in the Texans' locker room. "I'd probably say I'm ahead of schedule, but at the same time, I don't want to push anything right now because there really is no rush. The most important thing is to be 100 percent healthy for when I do come back."
Cushing is not on crutches, not in any kind of boot and walks without a discernable limp. He has been off crutches for 3-4 weeks after having surgery on Oct. 25. He said Friday that he's "pretty close to jogging," a major milestone in his recovery, and has been doing step-ups and weighted exercises in the training room.
How does Cushing extinguish his competitive fire without being able to play?
"Put it towards my rehab," he said. "Put it towards my rehab, and just remember how sweet it's going to be to come back and play again and the first time I'm running out of the tunnel and all that stuff. Just got to keep that in the back of my mind and keep pushing. Every day, I'm closer to coming back."
Cushing has been around the team, contributing pointers to his teammates however he can. Aside from feeling responsibility to help the team as a captain, he said it helps him mentally to "be in the environment and bond with the guys and just see what's going on here."
Still, it has been far from easy for the fiery linebacker to sit and watch.
"It's tough," he said. "After every win, you obviously are happy, but part of you feels like you weren't part of it. It's obvious. It's evident. But at the same time, I'm happy for the guys. They're playing their hearts out. 10-1 at this point is just extremely impressive, but (it's) definitely tough watching every game and knowing I can't contribute."
In the meantime, Cushing will continue to work diligently in the training room to get back on the field.
"(I'm) going to… just take one day at a time because it's a significant injury where everything matters in the rehab," he said. "I'm just going to try to get better every single day."