Throughout the off-season, during OTA's, and early in training camp, we've heard the same thing about linebacker Brian Cushing from everybody associated with the Houston Texans — "The knee is finally right again, the old Cush is back."
In Saturday's preseason opener, Cushing only played five snaps (Hell, the Niners only ran 40 plays), so it was hard to tell from semi-real life game action if indeed the seventh year linebacker out of USC is all the way back to his superhero form of 2011. Yeah, it's been that long since Brian Cushing has played an NFL regular season unencumbered by either traumatic injury and/or rehabilitation from said injury.
In this week's preview of the second episode of the season for HBO's award-winning Hard Knocks, we see Brian Cushing basically deliver the "blitz pickup drill" equivalent of a WWE squash match on Texans currently-starting-because-Arian-Foster-is-hurt running back Alfred Blue. In the video, Cushing repeatedly sends Blue to football's version of Suplex City, and it makes you feel fanatics for and about Cushing.
It also makes you very fearful for Brian Hoyer's or Ryan Mallett's well being if the Denver Broncos decide to run an inside blitz with Blue on the field this weekend (although admittedly, Blue is thought to be a pretty solid blocker, most of the time). Click the picture below to go to the preview video….
Check out the video through the above link (have to go to YouTube on this one.
A brief Zapruder analysis of the highlights from this beatdown:
0:10 — Looking for the trigger shove? There it is … after the play, Alfred Blue nudges Brian Cushing unexpectedly, drawing a semi-calm "Hey…cut the shit, Blue…" from the linebacker. Sometimes, you just need to poke a beast gently with a stick and bad things happen….
0:18 — Next play, a little hand to hand combat, and Cushing gets past Blue for the touch sack on the tackling dummy posing as a quarterback, which strangely enough my brain sees as Matt Schaub during the 2013 season.
0:21 — Ok, THAT was bad ass… Cushing takes a knee to the side of the drill, removes his helmet, and then sprays an angry combination of sweat and saliva mist from his mouth, a la Triple H during his ring entrance ritual.
0:26 — Ok, this may be one of those things where the Hard Knocks producers are tailoring sound to match up with an image in order to embellish a story, but the visual of Alfred Blue looking like an eight year old who is about to cry with Cushing's voice in the background going "Come on, Blue, one more…" is one of the most hysterical things I've ever seen. Blue looks like a frightened kindergartener on his first day of school.
0:33 — Blue walks back into the drill to go against Cushing with all of the fight of a Death Row inmate about to get the chair.
0:38 — SUPLEX CITY...
0:42 — "That's two sacks….him and the quarterback…" Keep in mind, this is all happening because Blue gently shoved Cushing three one-hundredths of a second after a drill ended. I'd hate to see what would happen to Blue if he actually disrespected Cushing.
0:48 — Blue's former LSU teammate and current Texan teammate Kenny Hilliard tries to make Blue feel better by saying "Whoa, he's strong, boy…" It doesn't matter. Blue's lunch money has already been stolen.
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1:00 — For good measure, the producers show it again from two different angles, I guess to remind Blue's family to make sure that his dental records are up to date.
1:09 — Cushing gets a sip of water and rhetorically tells Jadeveon Clowney, who is sitting there with a towel on his head watching Blue's evisceration: "First of all, you're not gonna block me. Second of all, you don't want to fight me. Third of all…..I'm the man."
Yep, Brian Cushing is back. Episode 2 of Hard Knocks airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Central Time on HBO, and our recap will be here tomorrow morning. You can read our recap from Episode 1 last week here.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.