It has been almost seven-and-a-half months since Texans linebacker Brian Cushing tore the ACL in his left knee on Oct. 8 at the New York Jets.
It won't be long now before he returns to the field.
"My return is right around the corner, so that's a good feeling," Cushing said on Monday after the Texans' first practice of OTAs. "I can definitely tell you I'll be ready for the first game of the season, and I'm pretty sure I'll be ready for the first practice come training camp."
Cushing arrives at Reliant Stadium for rehab daily at 6:30 a.m., feverishly working to come back stronger than he was before. The Texans' defensive captain and 2011 MVP rehabbed on a side field for part of Monday's practice and watched the rest of it with his teammates, wearing his number 56 jersey without a helmet as he talked with teammates and coaches and observed the action.
"It's never fun watching, but at the same time, I know I'm really close," Cushing said. "My return is right around the corner, so that's a good feeling."
Cushing will not return to practice until training camp in July, but the 2009 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year said he has been running, squatting, jumping and doing position drills in his rehab.
"I think I'm doing pretty much everything I can do," Cushing said. "I feel great. I think it's just that last little bit of strength that I need to get, and then I'll be good.
"There haven't been any setbacks. It's going great. I'm starting to feel like me again, and that's a hell of a feeling considering where I was and how hard it was just some mornings to even get up and walk. It's just night and day, and it's in the past. It's full throttle now, and I'm gonna go as hard as I can until I'm back."