Bill O'Brien spoke Thursday for the coaching staff, players and fans when he was asked about the team's starting "Mike" inside linebacker.
"I'm fired up to watch Brian Cushing play," O'Brien said. "I believe we all are."
The veteran linebacker played for part of the first half during the preseason win at Denver. Cushing
was lost for the season in 2013 when he suffered a knee injury on October 20th at Kansas City. It came roughly a year after his 2012 was submarined to an ACL tear during a Week 5 win in New York against the Jets. Since 2011, the difference with Cushing in the lineup as opposed to when he's not is very pronounced. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel explained what other difference Cushing return to the lineup will provide.
"I think he brings an attitude to the defense," Crennel said. "He's a strong, physical player and I think he likes contact. That's all positive. As we try to build a physical team, I think that he fits right into that category and I think he helps us accomplish that."
O'Brien said Cushing's been impressive in the run up to Sunday's season opener.
"He's had a really good week of practice," O'Brien said. "He's a very intense player. He's a smart player. He's a leader of the defense. He's the signal caller. He's great in the locker room."
Cushing and the Texans kick off the 2014 campaign this Sunday at noon CT against Washington in NRG Stadium.