Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 7/30/12
Wade Phillips will tell you Brian Cushing is better than people think. He'll tell you he made all the Texans' third-down calls last season and that whether you realized it or not, he was basically the leader of the defense. "We coached the Pro Bowl," said the Texans' defensive coordinator. "We didn't have any inside backers that were better than him in my opinion. This guy's a bigtime player. Anybody that sees him on film knows that." And yet most people don't see Cushing on film, at least not the way a coach does. There probably was not a universally held perception of Cushing last season, but if there was it probably went something like this: A bit of a wild man who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs after the 2009 season and regressed the following year. Cushing was the all-world talent, you may have thought, but DeMeco Ryans was the Texans' defensive leader. While that might have been true in 2009 or 2010, by last season Cushing had overtaken Ryans on the field. Ryans was a popular player in Houston, both with fans and media. He was the defense's biggest spokesman and for at least a couple of seasons may have been its best player. He had at least 112 tackles his first four seasons in the NFL, but missed 10 games in 2010 and wasn't an every-down player in Phillips' 3-4 system. He had 64 tackles, one forced fumble, no sacks and no interceptions last season. Cushing, meanwhile, had 114 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions last year, making him the team's most productive linebacker. So when the Texans traded Ryans to the Philadelphia Eagles this spring, Cushing became the Texans' leader in symbol only. In reality he was already there. "Any time you're a middle linebacker, a lot of eyes are on you," Cushing said. "Especially when you get older and you start making a lot more plays, people look to you for those kinds of things. That's something I've totally embraced. I feel good about it." The more eyes are on him, the more might realize that although Cushing is one of those bleeding-from-the-face kinds of middle linebackers, off the field he speaks quietly and without much inflection. The way to say it is probably that he carries himself professionally, but not entertainingly. He does not come off like an attention-seeker and he lacks the charisma that made Ryans so popular as a spokesman. Cushing nonetheless describes himself as a comfortable and experienced leader. "It's been there since I've been playing at a young age, in high school and in college, it always has kind of been my role," Cushing said. "I think it comes with the position, I think it comes with the attitude I play with. I like it when people look to me for a big play."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

David Price to start for Red Sox Monday against Chicago

David Price to start for Red Sox Monday against Chicago

Magic Johnson indicates Brandon Ingram is Lakers’ only untradeable player

Congress drafted a bill that could legalize online sports betting; how soon might it happen?

Oscar De La Hoya writes scathing letter opposing Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Brown responds to Tyronn Lue saying Boston tougher to defend than Golden State

Concussions won’t change the way Luke Kuechly plays

Kevin Durant opens up about how he shuts out the haters

Magic Johnson compares LaVar Ball to Kris Jenner

Dick’s Sporting Goods slipped again and sold Cavs NBA Finals merchandise early

Brandon Marshall responds to Sheldon Richardson calling him out

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

It’s our civic duty to stop attending Super Bowls in new stadiums

Box Score 5/25: The Cavaliers look to close out the Celtics

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

Box Score 5/24: Craig Anderson saves the Senators

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker