Brian Cushing doing more and more

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Since coming off the physically unable to perform list last week, the Houston Texans have eased inside linebacker Brian Cushing back into a full workload.

He's close to that now, having done a lot during team drills against the Denver Broncos during the two teams' two joint practices this week.

"I'm excited about where I am physically and mentally, but we all know the game is stepped up just a little bit more," Cushing said. "It's a little faster, a little more intense. I'm excited, but I'm excited for every practice and for every game. I'm looking forward to all of it."

Cushing's impact on the Texans' defense is major. That might be easy to forget because he's missed half of each of the past two seasons, but you won't forget it when he's out there. With Cushing, the Texans have three elite players in a front seven that also has defensive end J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney.

He finished last season on injured reserve after suffering a broken leg and torn LCL on Oct. 20.

He hasn't played in either of the Texans' first two preseason games, and isn't sure if he will this week. It's entirely possible Texans' coach Bill O'Brien decides Cushing got enough reps against an opponent during the week that he doesn't need to play in the game.

Cushing said he would feel comfortable going into the first week of the regular season without having played in a preseason game.

"Football is football," he said. "But at the same time, you want to get out there. You want to get some game-time experience, especially against a very good football team."