General Manager and Executive Vice President Rick Smith** ILB Brian Cushing
(opening statement) "Good morning and thanks for coming. Obviously, we have a big announcement that everybody is aware of. As you know, we agreed to terms yesterday on a contract extension for Brian to be a member of our team for six additional years that will keep him here through the 2019 season. It's a big day for the franchise. It's an important day for us and an exciting day for us. Brian obviously is an excellent football player. He's a great man as well, family man and he's a guy that adds an impact to our defense. He's a versatile player and all of the things on the football field that we look for, the intensity, the playmaking ability, the instincts, all of those things that he has. But he's a good person. We like to build our football team through the draft and with our young players that we think are guys that represent what we want in a player and in our men. He certainly emulates that. So we're excited about it. I'm happy for Brian. I'm happy for his family. I'm happy for our football team. He can lead our defense and be a part of what we're doing for many, many years to come. Congratulations, Brian and I'll turn it over to him."
(opening statement) "Obviously, I'm very excited about this situation. I'd like to thank the McNairs, Rick of course, (Head) Coach (Gary) Kubiak, (Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips, everyone that's involved. Obviously, this is an organization that I love and I wanted to be a part of for the rest of my career. This was a no-brainer for us to be here. I'm a Texan now, consider Houston my home, and just couldn't be more excited for the future that this team has and now being a part of it for the long haul. I'm very appreciative and I'm ready to roll."
(on if he was surprised how quickly an extension was able to happen given that he was injured last year) "In some ways, yes, but I think Rick and I have stayed really close throughout this whole situation and he's really monitored me and seeing my progress. I attacked it pretty well. I went after it and I wanted to be healthy. There's nothing more than I wanted to do than to be back on the football field for this team and for these guys. Rick and I have had a great relationship. He's seen me and the way that I came back. I'm feeling really confident with where I am right now."
(on how important the trust between him and Cushing is in order to be able to get an extension done before the season) "It's important, but obviously trust is something that's earned. Over time, that's something that has developed and that's something that Brian is directly responsible for. He's shown us that we can count on him. He's shown us the work ethic the work ethic that he has. He's shown us, throughout the course of his rehab process, that he was committed to returning to actually being better than he was before. So I was confident in that and very comfortable with that as I watched him continue to do the things that he's done to earn that trust."
(on if he can reflect on how tough it was being injured to now being healthy and receiving an extension) "It was a very dark time. Any previous injury before that was maybe missing a game or two and, now, having the season taken away from me, watching the guys go out to practice every day and not being able to contribute, was a helpless feeling. It was something that I didn't want to feel any more and kind of motivated me to get back and to push every single day. Now, looking back on it, I think it's obviously made me a stronger person, both physically and mentally. I'm just real happy now and, looking back, it's definitely made me stronger."
(on many organizations probably being unwilling to give a player coming off injury an extension and the trust the Texans have in him) "Absolutely. It's just another motivating factor. Having Rick's trust and the organization that they proved to do something like this makes me want to go out and prove them right. I've never been more excited to play football than I am right now. Having this year taken away from me, a lot of critics out there asking whether or I'll be back or whatnot or what kind of form I'll return to, I think anyone that knows me and my kind of work ethic knows that I'll be back and better than ever."
(on the competitive relationship and rivalry between him and DE J.J. Watt) "I think you're 100 percent correct on that one. We definitely have a little bit of a rivalry, but at the same time, I think we look at more of ourselves as a duo, kind of a two-headed monster. Two guys that are going to have to be dealt with for a long time that feed off of each other and are really excited to play with one another. He's an unbelievable football player to play with. I feel like he feels that way about me as well. I kind of groomed J.J. coming in and taught him some ways and obviously he's just run with it. He did a tremendous job with me out last year and had arguably one of the best defensive seasons in history. I think having the both of us back together, it's nothing more than exciting. It's competitive, but at the same time we want the best out of each other and the best for the team."
(on what he sees the Texans being able to accomplish over the course of the next six years) "I think the biggest thing for this team is keeping our goals short term. It's something that we've always done, not setting our sights too far ahead. We always say around here, '1-0.' You can only win the game that's next and that is San Diego right now."
(on how much more meaningful this extension is now that he has a 10-month old son) "It is. I think there is a lot more peace of mind now in our house. My wife and I were out to dinner last night and our son was crying and we were laughing because he really has no idea what's going on and how lucky of a little boy he is. That's kind of the father role and something that you're proud of is being able to take care of your family. A role that I've accepted and absolutely want. It's something to be very happy about."
(on the Texans being able to stay ahead of the curve and keeping key players such as LB Brian Cushing) "I just think it's important, philosophically, that's the idea that we think gives us the best chance to win and to remain competitive year in and year out. That's something that seems to be working for us. We will continue to do that and obviously Brian is one of those guys that very early on you knew, right away, that this guy was a special player. For us to be able to keep him and to watch him continue to grow, because I do think that as good as he is that there is a level for him to reach that he hasn't gotten to yet. I think he's motivated to reach that level and I'm excited to watch him do it."
(on how excited he is to see ILB Brian Cushing return to the lineup) "I'm excited. I think we all are. I think one of the goals for training camp and the preseason is to figure out the best 53. I think that's the primary goal. But then also to try to get a sense of what this version of the team is. Last year is gone. We've got to move forward. We've got San Diego that we're focused on. So this year's team has to develop. It has to come together. It has to define itself. So I'm excited to watch these guys do that."
(on if it's still too early to talk about San Diego) "We're about one day away still. But obviously, it's clearly on our minds. It's a Monday night game. You can't start any bigger than that. This is something this organization absolutely wants, to prove what we're all about on a national stage. We'll be full-go with San Diego tomorrow and really lock in."
(on how closely he was watching ILB Brian Cushing's rehab process) "I'm pretty involved in all of our medical decisions and rehab protocols and processes. I spend a lot of time with (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer) Geoff Kaplan, (Dr.) Walt Lowe and (Coordinator of Rehabilitation/Assistant Athletic Trainer) Roland (Ramirez) in all the rehabilitation situations but this one was obviously pretty important and so I think I might have spent a little extra time with them on this one. Trust me, I knew every rep. I knew every exercise. I knew what he was doing and we followed it pretty closely.
"Brian would send me photos. He kept me in the loop, trust me."
(on sending photos to Rick Smith during his rehab) "I would. I wanted to be back. There was no question about it. It was eating at me every day just not being out there and having to watch OTAs and the guys work out and not be able to do certain exercises with the team. I don't think anyone really likes to be hurt but I hated it. There is no hiding that. I just really wanted to be back."
(on what some of the photos were that he sent Rick Smith during his rehab) "I think the biggest thing—there were some videos as well—I would try to squat and box jump and show all those kind of things. I wanted to just improve upon that every single week. Every time I set a new goal I would send it him and just let him know I'm coming back."
(on what he envisions when Rick Smith is talking about reaching the next level) "What I envision is being the clear-cut best middle linebacker in the NFL. I've never hid that. I've never not said that before. It's something that I want and I think that I can get there. I know that I can get there. Obviously, it's going to require a lot of work and a couple more years of dominant play. But I feel like I have the tools to do that. It's one of those things that I'm going to have to continuously work at and obviously stay healthy, but I feel that I can very well do."