The Houston Texans were understandably filled with pride over nailing the 15th pick in the 2009 draft. They wanted to add a more physical, sturdier linebacker to their defense and they sure got one in Brian Cushing, who won defensive rookie of the year.
But now with Adam Schefter’s report that a failed test under the league’s policy against performance enhancing substances and an unsuccessful appeal mean Cushing will miss the first four games of 2010, all that comes into question.
Why exactly was he more physical and sturdier?
No matter any explanation we hear for the test, or if there is an admission, opponents and fans will wonder about that rookie year.
Cushing proved smart in his first year in the league, in that while even a good share of veterans around the league often don’t make the Sunday lineup if they don’t practice, he could. Sidelined during the week by multiple knee problems, rib fractures, a broken hand and a broken pinkie he was able to play when it counted.
Now we ask, what helped him do so? And we wonder just how smart he really was if he was taking something and failing a test and an appeal.
He will miss games against the Colts, at the Redskins, the Cowboys and at the Raiders.
The opener, against a defending AFC Champion the Texans have beaten just once since they began play in 2002, and that game against the Cowboys, where Houston will be anxious to dent the state’s hallowed NFL franchise, would have been tough enough with Cushing.
Xavier Adibi would likely be the third linebacker during that stretch, joining middle man DeMeco Ryans and Zac Diles. Diles would likely flip to Cushing’s strongside with Adibi taking over on the weakside.