The third-year player is expected to be a starter in the Texans' revamped 3-4 defense after starting 28 games during his first two seasons. Cushing was forced to sit out the first four games of the 2010 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He had originally been named to the Associated Press All-Pro team, as well as named the Defensive Rookie of the Year for a season that included 133 tackles, 10 pass deflections, 4.0 sacks and four interceptions. In a revote, he retained his rookie of the year status, but was removed from the All-Pro team.
Despite missing a quarter of the season, Cushing returned to register 76 tackles. He was a rare bright spot on a defense that was among the worst in the NFL, allowing 376.9 yards per game.