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Cushing, Barwin make first trip to Houston


The Texans' first-round draft pick Brian Cushing arrived bleary-eyed at the Houston airport Sunday morning, working on three hours of sleep after learning at Radio City Music Hall that he was selected No. 15 overall by the Texans. But any signs of grogginess disappeared when the linebacker out of USC was met by a throng of fans at the terminal.

Cushing, donning a Texans' hat, smiled as he signed autographs and posed for photos. It was his first taste of NFL fame, and of what he hopes to be a long and illustrious career in Houston.

"I'm more than excited to be a part of the Houston Texans family," Cushing said. "I'm going to be a player that brings a lot of excitement, intensity and anything that helps the team win as (much) 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 in practice every single day or every single game."

{QUOTE}Cushing was a four-year starter for the Trojans and built a reputation as a high-motor, intense and versatile defender who played defensive end and all three linebacker positions. The Texans will look to start him at the strongside position.

"Ever since playing football in the third grade, I've been a leader of my football team," Cushing said. "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.

"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."

After touring Reliant Stadium with his parents and girlfriend, Cushing met the Texans' second-round pick, defensive end Connor Barwin. The two posed for photos with their new jerseys before helming their first press conference with the Houston media.

"This is my first time in Texas, but I'm very, very excited and happy to be a part of the organization," Barwin said. "I'd like to thank (Texans owner) Mr. Bob McNair for bringing my whole family down here and my godmother.

"I want to be an impact to the game right away. Obviously, I'll be playing on special teams, and then I want to be in there giving the quarterback a hard time."

Coach Gary Kubiak said that Barwin will play defensive end for the Texans, lining up behind right end Mario Williams. Defensive end Antonio Smith, a free agent addition from the Arizona Cardinals, could move inside to tackle on passing downs to make room for Barwin, who is a talented pass rusher.

"I don't think it's pressure," Barwin said. "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."

Cushing is not a stranger to media scrutiny. He was falsely accused of testing positive for steroids at the NFL Scouting Combine, an allegation that has prepared him to handle the pressure of the national spotlight.

"It has been difficult, especially with the rumors," Cushing said. "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. (My family is) 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."

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