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Cushing, Barwin address Houston media


A day after being picked by the Texans on the first day of the 2009 NFL Draft, linebacker Brian Cushing and defensive end Connor Barwin addressed the Houston media in an introductory press conference at Reliant Stadium.

LB Brian Cushing
(opening statement) "I would just like to thank everyone for having me here today. I'm more than excited to be a part of the Houston Texans family. I'm going to be a player that brings a lot of excitement, intensity and anything that helps the team win as best as possible. I know as the 15th pick of the draft, you guys are expecting a lot out of me. I'm here to bring that, whether it be practice every single day or every single game. I'm more than happy to be here – it's my first time in Houston. I'm glad to be part of the family, absolutely."

DE Connor Barwin
(opening statement) "Like Brian, this is my first time in Texas, but I'm very, very excited and happy to be a part of the organization. I'd like to thank (Texans owner) Mr. Bob McNair for bringing my whole family down here and my godmother. It's a good experience for all of us to be down here. I'm just excited about playing football."

LB Brian Cushing
(on his defensive intensity) "I think it is something that I've developed over the last couple of years in my life and in my football career. I remember, ever since playing football in the third grade, I've been a leader of my football team. I've never wanted to lose. I've always wanted to be that guy to drive everyone in the locker room. No matter where I was, I've just wanted to have that winning attitude and lead by example."

(on former USC teammate QB Mark Sanchez and handling the steroid allegations) "To the first question, Mark and I have talked. I just let him know a couple times that I'm sure I'll be hitting him a couple times in the first game. It won't be the first time we've came in contact.

(on handling the steroid allegations) "It has been difficult, especially with the rumors. There are people out there trying to slander and tarnish your name. You work hard for 22 years in order to build up a reputation for yourself and your family. They're with me every step of the way. When I get hurt, they get hurt; when I'm proud, they're proud. The biggest thing is, I don't know how many more drug tests or anything I can go through to prove that I'm a hard-working guy and I don't take anything illegal. The Houston Texans believe in me, and that's what's most important. I'm just going to keep proving people wrong."

(on his goals for the 2009 season) "Some of my goals right now – I'm going to have to go short-term because I'm going to take it step by step, day by day. As far as right now, I'm probably going to get on a plane back home tomorrow and be right back in the gym getting ready for OTA's coming in and try to make impact as soon as possible to help this team be better than last year."

DE Connor Barwin
(on his goals for the 2009 season) "I think my goals are, like somebody mentioned, just immediately being an impact. I want to be an impact to the game right away. Obviously, I'll be playing on the special teams, and then I want to be in there giving the quarterback a hard time."

LB Brian Cushing(on the pressures of being a high draft pick) "I don't think it is pressure. This is something I should expect. I have worked very hard to be at the top of my game, to be a top-notch player, and along with that comes responsibility. With expectations of coming in and being a high pick, a very important player, that's what I live for. That's what I play this game for, not just to be an average player."

DE Connor Barwin(on the pressures of being a high draft pick) "Yes, I think the same thing. I don't think it's pressure. You want to get drafted by a team that wants you to make an immediate impact. I wouldn't have it any other way, so I'm excited about the challenge. I'm ready to attack it full on."

(on his basketball career and guarding 7-foot Portland Trail Blazers C Greg Oden in college) "I don't know how I did that. I think I got lucky. To answer that question honestly, to guard those big guys you just have to push them away from the basket because once they get close to the basket, I can't do anything against Greg Oden. You try to use your strength to push them away from the basket so they can't get the ball close."

LB Brian Cushing
(on talking with teammates DE Mario Williams and LB DeMeco Ryans) "No, I have not yet. I am just excited to be a part of that defense and bring intensity to a very good young defense. I'm thrilled to start camp with them."

DE Connor Barwin
(on talking with teammates DE Mario Williams and LB DeMeco Ryans) "I haven't talked to them either. Same thing: I'm just excited to play with guys of their caliber. So you learn from them and get to play with them."

LB Brian Cushing
(on his mentors growing up) "I think my family, first and foremost, has always been there for me. They are the ones who have helped me out the most. My mom's sitting right here, helped me put on my pads in third grade when I couldn't figure out my knee pad from my thigh pad. She helped me out with everything. My dad's the one that really established himself as an intense kind of guy, a no-bull-about-anything, a strict household, which was best for me. As far as a coach or a mentor, Ken Norton Jr., my linebacking coach in college, never let up. He taught me the same way freshman year as he did senior year. If I had a bad day, he was on me about it. Even if I had a good day, he still knows I can get better. And I felt that though at times we had conflicts, we still wanted the best out of each other and have very similar personalities."

(on talks with USC Head Coach Ken Norton, Jr., on what the difference will be playing in the NFL as opposed to playing in college) "Well, we've talked all four years. I've tried to pick his brain and everything. It's a different game; it's a grown man's game. Football is football. It just keeps elevating up to the next level. Now, I know I'm going to be going into the locker room with guys with families, supporting their children. It's a business now more than ever. The thing with that, with what he's taught me, is just keeping a level head. Be the same guy when you enter the league as when you leave the league and just being that hungry guy every single day."

(on when the turning point in his career occured) "My first turning point in my career was, I think, my freshman year after we lost the national championship to Texas. I think the whole team had a bitter taste in their mouth knowing that we lost a game that we shouldn't. I think the class I came in with, the '05 recruiting class and a lot of other kids, really turned the page in that book and just tried to get better from there on out. We promised ourselves that this is going to be a defensive team, that we were going to be a dominant hungry team that would be relentless for the next three years."

(on if he thinks about that Rose Bowl and former Texas QB Vince Young) "I think about it. I know I'll have my opportunity to play against him again. It was an unfortunate moment that we lost that game. I think we did pretty good from there on out the past three years."

(on the bet between him and his former teammates of who would be drafted first) "Well, there were no friendly wagers or anything, just a lot of bragging rights. I think I've got those for the next couple of years, being the first one taken."

(on his reaction to negative media attention and his "tight hips") "I guess it puts you in the spotlight a lot. I have tight hips and the fastest agility in the whole country, so I don't know how that goes hand in hand. I guess people just have to say something, and you just have to ignore it. The process is very long, and people get a lot of time to observe you and break you down. You've got all these draft analysts who think they know everything about you, but I'm happy where I am and hopefully I can loosen those hips up."

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