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Brian Cushing ramping up his game

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel saw a bright spot in the Texans much-improved run defense last Sunday.

Brian Cushing.

"Well I thought everybody played pretty good but Cush (Brian Cushing) showed up a little bit," Crennel said Wednesday. "We were pleased to see him bring that physical nature (to) the game and I think that helps."

Through the first four games, Cushing has become increasingly more comfortable in Crennel's defense after missing the offseason and most of training camp working his way back from last year's season-ending knee surgery. Snap counts have been limited in his regular season return, but Cushing is starting to look like himself again as he gains more reps.

Head coach Bill O'Brien agreed.

"Yes, no doubt about it," O'Brien said. "I thought he played a heck of a game. I think he had nine tackles. He was downhill in the running game. He played a very physical game. He did a really good job in the passing game of being disciplined whether he was in zone coverage, being in the right spot, or being in match coverage staying with his man. I thought he played a really good, solid football game."

Cushing ranks ninth in the NFL with a team-best 37 tackles through four games in 2014. Since 2011, the Texans have been 20-12 and have given up the fewest yards per game in the NFL (290.4) and hold opponents to 19.1 points per game when Cushing plays. In the 20 games without Cushing, Houston has a 7-13 record, ranks 17th in the league in total yards allowed per game (350.1), and has given up 25.6 points per game.

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