Brian Cushing knows what it feels like to walk run out of the tunnel into an energized NRG Stadium.
He did it in 2011 when the Texans first hosted a playoff game in the stadium. Now, returning to be Reppin' H-Town during the pregame festivities ahead of Houston's home first playoff game since 2019, Cushing anticipated to feel the same energy as 2011.
"It's very exciting not just for the organization but for the city in general and Texans fans outside of Houston," Cushing said. "It's what you dream of is a home playoff game. It's been since 2019 to be back here again, really looking forward to it."
Cushing has watched as the "culture" has been restored in Houston and the former Texans linebacker believes everything is "headed in the right direction" with former teammate DeMeco Ryans at the helm.
Ryans, who is in his first season as an NFL head coach, is the same guy today as he was back in his playing days in Houston. No different from player to coach for Cushing.
"I knew he was the right guy," Cushing said. "There was no other option if you had asked me just because of how everything came together. What you see is exactly who he is. He was like that in the locker room and he's like that as a coach."
"I knew the culture would be restored but to see them back in the playoffs first year is pretty incredible. That's him. I know he's got a great staff with him. The roster's solid."
Cushing, being a defensive guy, has enjoyed watching that unit swarm to the ball, break the single-season franchise record in sacks – led by Jonathan Greenard and Will Anderson Jr, cause havoc in the secondary – led by Derek Stingley Jr.
"They've been aggressive, they've executed really well," he said. "They've had a good amount of injuries too and it's nice to see other guys step up, fill in and don't miss a beat. That's a culture thing again. Where there's a message being expressed and taught in that room and it directly translates onto the football.
"They are younger, aggressive and the path is only up for them."