Cushing agrees to terms with Texans


First-round draft pick Brian Cushing will be the Texans' starting strongside linebacker this season.

The Texans have agreed to a contract with first-round draft pick Brian Cushing, the 15th overall pick out of USC. The lone Texans draft pick yet to sign, Cushing will resume his role as the team's starting strongside linebacker when he reports to camp.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak said that he expects Cushing to be in Houston and signed in time for practice on Saturday afternoon. Cushing had been in Los Angeles for the past few days as he waited to sign his contract.

{QUOTE}"What we want to do defensively, what we're trying to do with our front, I think he's a big part of that puzzle," Kubiak said. "He can play on the line of scrimmage very effectively, he can also play off, but that's one of the reasons we drafted him. Very physical young man, can go get the passer if he needs to. We expect him to bring a physical presence to our defense, so we're counting on him big-time."

Cushing (6-3, 262) was a four-year starter at USC who earned All-Pac 10 and All-America honors as a senior. The Oradell, N.J., impressed Texans coaches and players by making a seamless transition to the pros during OTAs and mini-camp.

"He looked pretty good," Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "He's an athletic guy, and I think he's going to be a big-time playmaker for us. And that's what we need, to add more playmakers to our defense, and I'm eager to get him back out here and see him get back out here working with us."

Cushing's signing will complete a busy couple of weeks of negotations for general manager Rick Smith and his staff.

"I know they were up there until three in the morning (Saturday) hammering out the deal," Kubiak said. "(Smith) and Chris (Olsen) have done a good job, so we've got (the draft picks) all in and we need to get them ready to play."

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