Cushing returns after four-game suspension


His four-game suspension from the NFL complete, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing returned to Reliant Stadium on Monday for the first time since Sept. 4.

The 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year, who was suspended in May for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, was restricted from being at the Texans' facility or team functions in the first month of the season.

"We'll get him going from a football standpoint," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Monday, adding that Cushing will definitely play on Oct. 10 against the New York Giants. "We'll spend a lot of time with him (Tuesday). We'll probably actually work him out tomorrow. We're excited to have him and get ready to go."

During his suspension, Cushing spent six days a week working out with his long-time trainer Joe DeFranco in Wyckoff, N.J. The workouts were designed specifically to simulate the physical rigors of a football game.

Kubiak said his primary concern will be seeing how sharp Cushing is after missing about 250 reps in the first four games. As a rookie, Cushing recorded eight tackles in his first game despite missing the entire preseason with a knee injury.

"He's proven that he can play missing practice; he did that last year," Kubiak said. "He's proven that he can play with a lot of time missed in training camp; he did that early last year. We need him to come back and put him to work right away. Hopefully everything looks good throughout the week."

Cushing tallied a team-high 133 tackles and four sacks last season, when he started all 16 games at strongside linebacker. His return will bolster a defense that ranks last in the league in total yards (408) and passing yards (337.8) allowed per game.

"Brian is a leader by his play," Kubiak said. "He's a very fiery guy. He's a very physical player. Brian helps us rush the passer when we bring five and he's part of the rush. He helps us in nickel. He gives us flexibility moving around."

Cushing, who had four interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2009, also figures to help the Texans in the turnover department. The Texans had only one takeaway in their first three games this season before forcing three turnovers at Oakland on Sunday.

"There's not anybody on this team or in this organization not excited to have him come back," Kubiak said.

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