Brian Cushing returns for the Houston Texans today as they host the New York Giants.
He has finished serving his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and his return couldn't come soon enough for the Texans.
His return is highly anticipated after helping the previously 27th-ranked Texans' scoring defense in 2008 make the leap to becoming the 17th-ranked scoring defense in 2009, his rookie season.
The defense has performed well against the run and yields the second-fewest yards to opposing running backs, including a 3.6 yards-per-carry average. Those stats could also be skewed, though, because opposing offenses have all but stopped running against them, airing it out like wet laundry: all day long.
Brian Cushing was a force in the passing game last year, sacking the quarterback four times and also picking off four passes.
One area he'll help particularly well with is defense against tight ends. The Texans have been more gracious than any team in the league against tight ends, giving up 105.8 yards per game to them, having also given up three of their eight total passing touchdowns through four games to tight ends.
Cushing's versatility at the outside linebacker position will be necessary in both creating pressure on Eli Manning and covering Kevin Boss.
Will Cushing storm out of the gate, or will he struggle to shake the cobwebs?
We could see a little bit of rust, but chances are good that 2009's AP Defensive Rookie of the Year will make a big impact.
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