Brian Cushing told the Houston Texans' team website in mid-April that he is preparing to be "110 percent" in time to have a career-best season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament early last October.
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So far, so good. Owner Bob McNair said in February that the team's best linebacker was "ahead of schedule" in his rehabilitation. Now, head coach Gary Kubiak says Cushing is "champing at the bit" to get back on the field.
"I'm watching him today, he sure looks like he's ready to go," Kubiak said Monday, via HoustonTexans.com. "I know that it's not time to turn him loose yet, but he's come a long way."
The Texans will continue to exercise caution with Cushing's knee throughout the offseason, but he's on track to participate in training camp. He will be nine months removed from surgery by early August. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson needed just eight months of rehabilitation before the start of his historic 2012 season.
Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips desperately needs his defensive leader back at full strength this season. Phillips' defense fell off sharply when Cushing went down, surrendering 25-plus points in five of the last 11 games after not allowing it to happen once in the first five.