Texans linebacker Brian Cushing is nearing a return to the field from a 2012 knee injury. He's also nearing the end of his rookie contract.
A first-round draft pick out of USC in 2009, Cushing has one season remaining on his five-year rookie deal. He made it clear on Friday that he would like to stay with the Texans long-term.
"I know that obviously, my knee has a lot to do with it right now," Cushing said Friday on the "Off the Turf with Scurf" podcast. "I have a lot to prove to show that I am me again when I come back, and I have no doubts that I will. Obviously, I know some people out there might think that might be tough, but no one works like me. And when I come back, it's gonna be evident that I'm the same, and I think I'll be better just because of the workload I've put in.
"No person wants to play here more than I do. I love this team, this city. It's what I'm all about. Love being a captain of this team, and it's something that I obviously would love to do for the rest of my career. I'm just hoping all things go in that direction."
Cushing said he "couldn't ask for a better coach and defensive coordinator" than Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips. He also raved about Texans fans.
"That's one of the main reasons that I want to be there, is for them," he said. "The way they've stood behind me and are gonna welcome me back when that time comes, it's awesome. They're so passionate. Obviously, we've been through a lot as an organization over the past 10 years. We weren't that good, and then we've gotten better, and they've stayed the same and always been there. There hasn't been one game I've played in (at Reliant Stadium) that hasn't been sold out. I think it just speaks volumes for the fans, and I don't think there's a better fanbase in the NFL."
When Cushing was a rookie in 2009, he talked of wanting to go down as one of the best linebackers in NFL history. Regardless of his 2012 injury and looming contract situation, he still has that lofty ambition.
"My goal still is to be one of the best that ever played," he said. "If it's gonna take me a little longer now because I had a setback, that's fine. I really don't care."