The NFL is a game that always comes full circle, which is exactly what happened when Brian Cushing took Benardrick McKinney under his wing the past two seasons. Cushing was given the same type of guidance when he was drafted in 2009 during the time that veteran DeMeco Ryans was the incumbent leader of the team.
Now in their second season together, Cushing and McKinney are forming a similar bond to what he and Ryans had in their time together with the Texans.
Cushing was open about what Ryans was able to do for him as a young player entering the league.
“Yeah, he is a special guy,” said Cushing of Ryans. “He taught me a lot. He was a very wise veteran about the way he approached the game. I think the number one thing with him was the game was never too big for him. He could handle any moment. I kind of admired that from a young age. In the heat of battle, things would be crazy and he would have the same exact look and same exact expression on his face.”
Cushing took over Ryans' role on the defense, as the leader in the middle, calling plays and lineup the defense. Now, with McKinney next to him, the duo have formed a solid combination on the field for the defense. McKinney is getting part of what Ryans taught his teammate by working next to Cushing.
“Playing next to Cushing, he pushes me everyday when I watch him on film,” explained McKinney. “When he comes downhill, I have to do the same thing. I don’t want to let this side of the defense down. Especially when Cushing is doing his job.”
The two totaled 173 tackles combined and were catalysts for one of the top defenses in the NFL. Cushing and McKinney have carried their good fortunes onto the field early this off season and it is carrying over to the defense as they look sharp early.
Cushing likes what he and McKinney are building as the starting linebackers for the Texans.
“Yeah, it’s a similar bond that we’re starting to form. It’s fun playing with him,” said Cushing of McKinney. “I like watching him develop. Like I said, anything I can help with him, I’m obviously going to.”
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