Trainers work on Houston middle linebacker Brian Cushing during the second… (Kathy Willens / Associated…)
Brian Cushing may not be saying much about the left knee injury he sustained Monday night against the New York Jets, but his Houston Texans teammates seem to be preparing for the worst — a torn ACL that could mean a Super Bowl push without their starting middle linebacker and leading tackler.
“It’ll be huge, man, he’s a vital part of our defense,” Texans linebacker Brooks Reed told the Bergen (N.J.) Record. “He’s the trendsetter, he gets everyone going. He’s out there every single play. He’s a warrior, so losing a guy like that is pretty big.”
Despite a 23-17 victory over the Jets to improve to an AFC-best 5-0, the Texans were somber afterward, USA Today reported, with the walkway leading up to the visitors' locker room at the Meadowlands backed up with players wanting to give Cushing a handshake or hug.
But the former USC Trojan tried to remain upbeat and wouldn't offer any guesses as to the extent of his injury, which occurred on a cut block by Jets guard Matt Slauson early in the second quarter.
"Hoping for the best right now," Cushing told USA Today Sports while leaving the stadium on crutches. "Obviously, it could be everything with the knee or nothing in the knee. It's a knee injury, and we'll see."
Cushing, the 2009 defensive rookie of the year, has not missed a game due to injury.
“I don’t know what I can give you now other than we’re very concerned, obviously," Texans Coach Gary Kubiak said of Cushing's injury. "But I don’t want to jump the gun here. We’re going to get home and get it looked at, but obviously we’re very concerned."
Still, Kubiak tried not to let a potential season-ending injury to a key player dampen the spirit of a team off to its best start in franchise history. After all, the Texans dealt with several major injuries (quarterback Matt Schaub, defensive end Mario Williams, running back Arian Foster, wide receiver Andre Johnson) a year ago but still made the playoffs for the first time in team history and even won a postseason game.
"I don't know who told me one time, but he said there are always two or three crises in a season,” Kubiak told CBS Sports. "If this is our first one, then we've got to be ready for it. But one thing we learned last year was that we're a team and we're going to win and lose as a team.
"[The players] are focused on that. We already talked about it. And they understand. I know this team has tremendous character, and there are times you have to reach a little deeper than normal. If we have to do that, I think we'll find a way."
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