Brian Cushing, LB

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by backrow, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. backrow

    backrow Hall of Famer

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    here's a very good article on Brian's success. i wasn't even aware that he made the ESPN all pro team of the halfway point of the season!

    Texans found a real gem.


    Former USC 'backers standing out
    Led by Cushing, USC linebacking quartet making strong first-year impressions
    in NFL Comment Email Print Share By Len Pasquarelli
    ESPN.com
    Archive

    [​IMG]
    Getty Images
    The Texans' Brian Cushing, left, is a leading candidate for defensive rookie of the year honors. Clay Matthews has emerged as a valuable contributor for the Packers.

    Better noted historically for producing offensive linemen and skill-position players in the NFL draft, the Southern California football program probably will never be known as "Linebacker U," the celebrated handle long ago awarded Penn State.

    But given the early results of the 2009 draft, which included four former USC linebackers, including two in the first round, NFL talent evaluators could make the Trojans' campus a must-stop from now on when assessing linebacker prospects.

    "We've had some guys who can play there," said USC coach Pete Carroll, a former NFL head coach, of the linebacker position. "Good athletes, and solid football players, so the [recent successes] haven't been that surprising."

    That said, putting four linebackers into the NFL in one year, all of them rookie starters at one point in the season, and with three of the defenders now regulars with their respective franchises, is a pretty remarkable feat. Then again, Brian Cushing (Houston), Clay Matthews Jr. (Green Bay) Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati) and Kaluka Maiava (Cleveland) all appear to be special players.

    The quartet has combined to start 33 games through the first 12 weeks of the season. Cushing, a viable candidate for defensive rookie of the year honors, and Maualuga both have started every contest for their teams. Matthews, the son of former NFL standout outside linebacker Clay Matthews and a one-time walk-on at USC, has started eight games for the Packers, after opening the season as a situational pass-rusher.

    "I think physically, they were all good [prospects]," Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak said when asked about the former USC linebackers. "But the most impressive thing, certainly from our standpoint with [Cushing], is their tremendous handling of the mental part of the game. They know football. They've got great football intelligence and instinct. Put that together with the physical side of things, and they just make plays."

    The 15th overall player selected in the spring and deemed a starter almost from the moment Texans officials handed in his name to draft officials, Cushing has made more plays from his strongside spot than his former college teammates. Enough, in fact, to have been selected for the ESPN.com All-Pro team at the halfway point of the season.

    Unofficially, Cushing has 99 tackles, the third-most in the league, according to NFL.com. Tackles are generally subjective statistics, with the general criteria varying from team to team, but 99 stops is still a lot, regardless of the formula used. Cushing also has 1.5 sacks, three interceptions and nine passes defensed. His three interceptions, including one against Peyton Manning in Sunday's loss to the Colts, are the second-most in the league by a rookie, trailing only Buffalo free safety Jairus Byrd (tied for the NFL lead with eight). Some pro scouts feel that Cushing is already among the five best strongside linebackers in the league.

    He and Byrd certainly have separated themselves from the pack in the race for defensive rookie of the year plaudits.

    "It's come together pretty nicely for me," said Cushing, whose confidence was often misinterpreted as arrogance in training camp. "There are a lot of elements that have been a struggle, and I still need to get better at some things, don't get me wrong. But I guess it's been pretty good to this point."

    Pretty good, indeed.

    His former USC teammates haven't been quite as good as Cushing, but all have enjoyed some standout moments as rookies.

    Matthews, the 26th overall choice in April, has 29 tackles, five sacks and five passes defensed in 11 games, including eight starts. Among league rookies, only Brian Orakpo of Washington (seven) has more sacks. A second-round pick, Maualuga has started every game at strongside linebacker for the Bengals, and has registered 46 tackles and one sack. In three starts, including two of the past three games, Maiava, a fourth-rounder, has posted 33 tackles, one-half sack and a pass defensed, and been very good on special teams.

    That the USC program has turned out four excellent linebacker prospects in the same year, given the caliber of athlete that Carroll typically attracts to the team, should not be all that stunning. Still, the school had produced only two first-round linebackers (Chris Claiborne to Detroit in 1999, and Keith Rivers to Cincinnati in 2008) in the previous 10 years. Cushing and Matthews were off the draft board by the 26th overall choice, and Maualuga was the 38th player chosen this spring. Maiava was the 104th pick.

    It's not as if USC has established a strong tradition of standout linebacker play. In the draft classes from 1989 to 2008, the school had only six linebackers chosen in the first three rounds. Junior Seau, a first-round choice in 1990, is probably headed for the Hall of Fame. A second-round pick in 1995, currently injured middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu of Seattle is a three-time Pro Bowl performer. But it's not like the Trojans have been churning out top-level linebacker prospects every year in the draft.

    Until this season.

    "They've played in big games, in a big-time conference, in front of huge crowds and with a winning program," said Texans four-year veteran middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, himself a former rookie standout. "So you expect them to do pretty well. But I think they've been even better than advertised."

    Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
     
  2. Thrashen

    Thrashen Hall of Famer

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    Cushing has 99 tackles and 3 picks already. His tackle totals at USC were never all that impressive when compared to guys like former Northwestern LB, Tim McGarile, or former Pitt LB, Scott McKillop....so this is a nice surprise.

    Cushing plays alot like Ray Lewis when he was young....high tackle totals, always making key interceptions, tackles for losses, sacks, etc.
     
  3. Van_Slyke_CF

    Van_Slyke_CF Mentor

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    Is there a better linebacker in the NFL this season than Brian Cushing?
     
  4. Don Wassall

    Don Wassall Administrator Staff Member

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    Fellow rookie James Laurinitis has had a tremendous rookie season as well. And Clay Matthews is getting better each week. But considering that Cushing isn't even a middle linebacker, and is playing alongside one that supposedly is one of the best in Demeco Ryans,he may well be the best LB in the league already as a rookie.
     
  5. backrow

    backrow Hall of Famer

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    Cushing and Laurinaitis are going to fight Orokpo for DRotY.
     
  6. DixieDestroyer

    DixieDestroyer Hall of Famer

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    Matthews, "Crushing" & "Animal Jr" Laurinaitis are a trio of studs on the gridiron. Glad to see them doing well![​IMG]
     
  7. dwid

    dwid Master

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    Yep, and Aaron Curry, the "can't miss" linebacker prospect and the "safest" pick of the draft who went 4th overall in the 1st, has been pathetic compared to the Matthews, Cushing and Laurinaitis. They have reduced his playing time because of his poor performance and he came out and said his team was asking too much of him by asking him to do things like defend the run, blitz the qb, take on nfl linemen, and drop into coverage and it was all wearing down on him (can you believe an NFL team would ask that of a such a high draft pick? he should be able to get paid to run around in shorts like in the combine and show off his straight line speed which everyone was oohing and ahhing over). Oh and he mentioned the fact that he has to take care of his family too. Poor guy having to work and take care of his family with only 34 million dollars of guaranteed money.

    Yet this year the same thing will probably happen, some afflete linebacker will get overhyped, and the White guys who fall and get drafted later will outproduce him. If Cushing, Matthews or Laurinaitis were having seasons like Curry I think we would be hearing about it quite a bit. Cushing and Laurinaitis were declared "busts" before they were even drafted, Laurinitis declared "too slow and unathletic to make the transition to the pros" and Cushing only considered athletic "because he juices and will shrivel up in the NFL". I guess some people just can't accept the fact that White people are naturally athletic since it goes against everything the media has told them. Some people liked Matthews because of his Dad but thats about it.

    I am glad all 3 are having great seasons and proving the doubters wrong. Just like Paul Poz proving everyone wrong. Can't wait to see Dan Connor do the same.Edited by: dwid
     
  8. TwentyTwo

    TwentyTwo Mentor

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    CONGRATS to Brian Cushing for Winning 2009 NFL Rookie of the Year Award on Defense!!
     
  9. backrow

    backrow Hall of Famer

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    Brian is a beast and continues to prove it. He's praised by Jay Cutler, his offseason MMA instructor!

    article

    After being voted NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Texans outside linebacker Brian Cushing returned to Los Angeles to work on his college degree and torture himself.

    Going back to USC to earn a degree in sociology was the easy part. Participating in a workout regimen designed for mixed martial arts by Fox insider Jay Glazer has been testing Cushing's resolve and allowing him to reach a mental and physical level he didn't know he had.

    "Brian's a beast, an absolute animal,"Â￾ said Glazer, who has been involved with MMA for 11 years. "Usually, NFL players come to us in March, but Brian started the week after the Super Bowl. That shows the kind of player and person he is, the kind of determination he has. He's a cyborg."Â￾

    Cushing, who has always been a workout fanatic, closed his rookie season with a variety of injuries that caused him to withdraw from the Pro Bowl. None required surgery, just rehabilitation.

    Cushing, 23, went to Glazer, who designed the workout program that combines boxing, kick boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling and judo, among other things.

    "It's a completely different way of training, and I wanted to take off from weights a little bit,"Â￾ Cushing said. "It's really helping my conditioning."Â￾

    Cushing is more flexible and powerful.

    "I'm learning so much about leverage and staying fluid,"Â￾ he said. "I'm a lot more aware of what I can do in certain situations."Â￾

    Glazer's company, MMAathletics, uses different locations for training. He and Cushing are working at True Warrior MMA in Hollywood.

    "It's a body-on-body workout, and it's amazing how little guys know about getting leverage and taking the opponent down when they get here,"Â￾ Glazer said. "MMA's scary to a lot of athletes in other sports because they don't know what to expect.

    "When the cage door shuts, the goal is to break the will of your opponent. We work on the heart and the will. Brian really wants to be great. We keep trying to break his will, but he keeps coming back for more."Â￾

    NFL pioneers
    Among the NFL players Glazer has trained are Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, San Francisco middle linebacker Patrick Willis, Cincinnati outside linebacker Keith Rivers, Atlanta offensive tackle Sam Baker and Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart.

    "Our goal is to make football easy for them,"Â￾ Glazer said. "This isn't for everybody. I've had (NFL players) walk in the door and then leave."Â￾

    But not Cushing.

    "After Jay told me guys had quit, no way was I going home,"Â￾ Cushing said.

    Since he began training with Glazer, Cushing has worked with Chuck Liddell and will work with Randy Couture â€" legendary MMA champions who have been the face of the sport.

    "The hardest part for me was just being able to relax,"Â￾ Cushing said. "You go there and you're around so many guys, and you want to prove you're the toughest.

    "It's very intense. There are no weights involved. We're kicking, punching, wrestling. The extreme parts of the workout are unbelievable, but I've grown to love it."Â￾

    As a strong-side linebacker who takes on blockers and has to use his hands to shed them and to keep them from taking him down, Cushing's MMA program should benefit him immensely.

    "The thing I'm learning the most is how to use my hands,"Â￾ he said. "I'm learning the kind of technique that will help me get guys off me."Â￾

    Cushing, 6-3, 260 pounds, should be even more physical than last season when he helped the Texans finish with a franchise-best 9-7 record.

    "We preach controlled violence,"Â￾ Glazer said. "There's a lot of hand fighting, chopping. If you know what you're doing, your forearms can be like blades. We teach where the nerves are, how you can chop somebody, find the nerve and hyperextend an elbow.

    Punish the instructor
    "Brian's gotten so good at this that I have to put on pads when I go against him because when he delivers the blows, it hurts. The power he hits with is incredible."Â￾

    Cushing expects a teammate to join him in Hollywood.

    "DeMeco Ryans is coming, and I can't wait because I know he'll really take to this and benefit from it,"Â￾ Glazer said. "There's another Texan I'd love to get out here, Mario Williams. He's got as much talent as anybody in the NFL. He's so naturally gifted that I know this workout regime would help him. If Mario came here, he'd push himself to levels he doesn't know he has."Â￾

    john.mcclain@chron.com
     
  10. FootballDad

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    Nice that he has confidence in his fellow defensive players, but I can almost guarantee that Ryans and Williams would join the ranks of the quitters....
     
  11. Don Wassall

    Don Wassall Administrator Staff Member

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    I wonder if Aaron Curry would have made it through. Last year at this time he was touted as the "one sure thing in the Draft" (while Brian Robiskie was being hailed as the one "NFL ready wide receiver" available lol). The posters on a forum on one fantasy site I look at were having a good old time making fun of Cushing, in particular by posting a picture of him as a freshman at USC next to one of him as a senior when he had noticeably muscled up and claiming he was a "roids freak." It couldn't possibly be that he worked his butt off in the gym and on the field during the intervening four years, no the only possible explanation was steroids.

    All three of the White LBs taken early last year kicked ass while their black counterparts all struggled. However the "copycat"NFL doesn't hold White LBs in higher esteem as a result, while despite innumerable black flops every year they continue to be forcefed into the league at every position but kicker. Even at QB there will be a few blacks drafted higher than they should be who will end up being "projects" that neverpan out.
     
  12. whiteathlete33

    whiteathlete33 Hall of Famer

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    I have a feeling Sean Lee is going to be just as good as Cushing and Matthews. He doesn't have the hype that Brian and Clay had but he's very good.
     
  13. Deadlift

    Deadlift Hall of Famer

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    I think Pat Angerer is the best White LB in the Draft. He's powerful and extremely athletic, and a sure tackler; he's White afterall!
     
  14. Jack Lambert

    Jack Lambert Hall of Famer

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    Out of all the black athletes who 'roid up regulary, it's whitey that gets punished. [​IMG]
    From Rotoworld:
     
  15. backrow

    backrow Hall of Famer

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    Merriman got suspended for juicing as well. I hate the fact that Cushing will have to carry the steroid user label.
     
  16. Jack Lambert

    Jack Lambert Hall of Famer

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    Thanks for reminding me about that, backrow.

    I'll bet that the steroids issue probably won't come up very much when DWFs talk about Merriman. When somebody mentions Cushing, however, the first thing they'll think is: STEROIDS!
     
  17. Westside

    Westside Hall of Famer

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    Now this is a surprise! Too bad for Cushing. Stay clear of the roids
     
  18. Fightingtowin

    Fightingtowin Guru

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    The worst part about this for me is that I was really starting to enjoy making the comment that "Cushing is another guy who should have been playing RB in college but was forced to switch positions, like Carrol wanted Gerhart to." Every DWF I mentioned that to (really only 2-3 I think) actually nodded in agreement right away because of how incredible Cushing did last year and all the eye opening Gerhart has done for the issue.

    Maybe if Cushing continues to dominate that argument will work again, but will probably just be dismissed for now. Edited by: Fightingtowin
     
  19. whiteathlete33

    whiteathlete33 Hall of Famer

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    Cushing releases a statement:

    "I was substance-tested randomly by the NFL during the 2009 season.
    The results of those tests indicated the presence of a non-steroidal
    banned substance. The League acted to suspend me based on those
    results, which I challenged in my appeal of the suspension. I believe
    we presented compelling evidence during the appeal process to challenge
    the test results, and I disagree with and am disappointed by the
    suspension. Bound by the decision of the League, I regret the situation
    it presents to the Texans' organization, my teammates, and our fans. My
    dedication to a championship season in 2010 continues undeterred."
     
  20. icsept

    icsept Mentor

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    If it was a non-steroid, then what was it? I think it is important for Cushing to inform the public of what substance, otherwise he's going to be permanently labeled as a steroid user.
     
  21. Van_Slyke_CF

    Van_Slyke_CF Mentor

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    I agree with icsept above. Cushing should come clean with the exact substance that he tested positive for and why.

    As others have mentioned, Merriman got pretty much a free ride after his steroid suspension, so let's see how Cushing is treated in the upcoming season.
     
  22. whiteathlete33

    whiteathlete33 Hall of Famer

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  23. backrow

    backrow Hall of Famer

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    The Associated Press announced Monday that it will conduct a re-vote for the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year award, citing previous winner Brian Cushing's violation of the NFL's policy on PEDs.

    Cushing is eligible in the re-vote, but he's not likely to win. His All-Pro status is also in danger of being stripped, as the AP will re-vote for one of its outside linebacker positions. Though Jairus Byrd finished second in Defensive ROY voting in the winter, we're betting third-place finisher Clay Matthews would edge him out considering Green Bay's finish to the season. Brian Orakpo, who had 11 sacks to Matthews' 10, may also be a serious contender.
    Source: Matt Maiocco on Twitter
    Related: Brian Orakpo, Clay Matthews, Jairus Byrd

    seems to be official, despite of this, earlier report:

    Brian Cushing reportedly passed a lie detector test to prove he did not take a performance-enhancing drug, but was still suspended by the NFL.

    This may help Cushing's chances of keeping his Defensive Rookie of the Year award, even if he's not going to get back the first four games and game checks for the 2010 season. Cushing will be eligible to participate in training camp. He must stay away from regular season practices until Week 5.
     
  24. Jimmy Chitwood

    Jimmy Chitwood Hall of Famer

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    wow, this is "weird."

    Merriman, a non-White player who was busted for using steroids, lost no honors nor endorsement deals nor even media acclaim after he was confirmed to have used steroids. in fact, he was voted to thePro Bowl despite missing four games AND testing positive. what a "weird" double standard ... Edited by: Jimmy Chitwood
     
  25. Westside

    Westside Hall of Famer

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    Anyone ie DWFs who can't see the double standard have s**t for brains. These are the fools who make less 50k and r out buyIng affletic jerseys and going to numerous NFL games. Losers
     

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