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Brian Cushing cleared to return to Houston Texans

Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing promised last month that he would be medically cleared July 17. It looks like he's a man of his word.

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ProFootballTalk.com and ESPN reported Wednesday that Cushing received the green light from Dr. James Andrews to fully practice when training camp opens next week. The Texans still are expected to "ease" Cushing back into the mix, but he should be more than ready to start the season come Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers.

Cushing suffered the injury in early October last year, so he's had a longer time to recover than some players like Robert Griffin III or Chris Clemons, both of whom suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments during the playoffs. Cushing's absence deeply hurt the Texans' defense last season. Now he'll be counted on to lead a young linebacker group that has Darryl Sharpton and Whitney Mercilus starting in their first full seasons.

In an interview with Around The League on Wednesday, Texans general manager Rick Smith expressed optimism about the linebacker group. It certainly will look a whole lot better if Cushing can return to form.

UPDATE: The Texans announced the news Wednesday afternoon on their Twitter account.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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