The NFL announced today that Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. It is Cushing's first rookie of the month honor and his third league award. He has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week twice this season, in Week 6 and Week 8.
Cushing (6-3, 260) finished the month with 43 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and three passes defensed. The 15th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Southern California Cushing leads the Texans with 99 tackles on the season. He is on pace to join linebacker DeMeco Ryans (2006) as the only rookies to lead the Texans in tackles.
Through 11 games, Cushing leads the AFC in tackles and ranks fourth in the league overall. He also leads all AFC linebackers with three interceptions and nine passes defensed, is tied for sixth with two forced fumbles and is tied for seventh with five tackles for loss.
"He's been special," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "If you look at some of the ways that things are calculated as far as what linebackers are accomplishing in this league on a week-to-week basis, this kid's right up there with everybody. He's been a pretty darn good player, and he's slowly becoming a leader on this football team."
Cushing recorded 10 or more tackles in all four games in November, leading the team in all four games. He opened the month by recording 10 tackles, including three solos, a sack and an interception in Houston's 31-10 win at Buffalo (11/1), earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
He followed that up with a career-high 12 tackles (10 solos) and a pass defensed at Indianapolis (11/8). Following Houston's bye week, Cushing posted a team-high 10 tackles (eight solos) on Monday Night Football vs. Tennessee (11/23). He picked off his second pass of the month and third of the season vs. Indianapolis (11/29) to go along with a game-high 11 tackles (seven solos).
Cushing becomes the fifth Texans rookie to earn rookie of the month honors and the third on the defensive side of the ball. It also marks the fourth consecutive season in which the Texans have had at least one player win Rookie of the Month honors. Running back Steve Slaton was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in December 2008; defensive tackle Amobi Okoye earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month in September 2007; and linebacker DeMeco Ryans was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month in December 2006.
This is the fifth NFL honor this season for the Texans. In addition to Cushing's two AFC Defensive Player of the Week awards, quarterback Matt Schaub earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 2 and WR Jacoby Jones was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 4.