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Thursday, February 4, 2010
Cushing rare rookie OK with little practice

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Brian Cushing was the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year and a Pro Bowler, but he lost out to Percy Harvin for Pepsi Rookie of the Year.

Cushing was every bit the high-impact addition the Texans were counting on when they spent their first-round draft pick on him.

It was all the more impressive because he missed so many practices while recovering from injuries -- multiple knee problems, rib fractures, a broken hand, a broken pinkie.

A decision is coming on possible knee surgery in the next two weeks, and he said it would just be a minor procedure.

Some hard-line coaches won’t even let veterans in action on Sunday if they don’t at least practice on Friday. But Cushing estimates he missed 60-70 percent of practices.

“I was able to play with coach [Gary] Kubiak and fortunately enough he is a very understanding coach with the kind of ailments I had all year,” Cushing said. “He knew for me to be at my best come Sunday I would have to rest and just prepare as best as I could.”

A couple of us pushed Cushing for a Super Bowl pick, and he got to talking about Houston’s division rival.

“The Colts know how to win,” he said. “… I just see it tough for Peyton Manning to lose a big game like that, I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’d be nice to say a team you almost beat twice went on to win the Super Bowl. Why not, you know? I would like to see them win.”