Suspended LB Cushing practices with Texans

HOUSTON (AP) - Brian Cushing insists he hasn’t lost a step. The Texans will find out soon enough.

The Houston linebacker returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since his four-game drug suspension, saying he’s eager to play again after feeling “helpless” at times watching his teammates on the field.

Coach Gary Kubiak said Cushing will play for the Texans (3-1) against the New York Giants (2-2) on Sunday.

Cushing said he’ll use the rest of the week to sharpen his football techniques and relearn Houston’s defensive calls and schemes.

“I’m back,” Cushing said. “It’s going to be the same old (No.) 56 running around. It’s what I do. I take a lot of pride in playing football, and I want to be the best at it. Hopefully, I cannot skip a beat, come in Week 5, and be the player I’d be in Week 1.”

Kubiak said he’s concerned that Cushing is about 250 real-game snaps behind the other defensive starters. But Cushing has proven before that he can catch up in a hurry after missing practice time. He sat out every preseason game last year, then led the team in tackles in its first four regular-season games.

“He’s always handled himself well with the team, he’s always been very accountable in his preparation and his work,” Kubiak said. “It’s not like you have a player who we’re fighting to get in here and work and take care of his business. This guy is working all the time, so that’s not a problem.”

Cushing wasn’t shy about sharing what he did in his month away from the team.

Videos posted on YouTube in recent weeks show Cushing working out in a New Jersey gym, with hard-rock music playing in the background. Cushing turns over a giant tire, bench-presses a 347-pound barbell, dead-lifts weights attached to heavy chains and pushes a weighted sled.

Cushing said he worked out about 3-4 hours a day during his suspension, including physical therapy and studying film of Texans’ games. He took Sundays off, and decided not to watch the live broadcasts of Houston’s games after the opening win over Indianapolis.

“I couldn’t really watch the games anymore, just from the fact of not being able to be out there and not being able to help the team,” he said. “It’s kind of a helpless feeling. I played golf, and tried to get my mind off it. But I was on my cell phone every single second, checking the score updates.”

Cushing was suspended in May after testing positive for HCG, a drug on the league’s list of banned substance. Cushing says he never took the drug, which can be used to restart testosterone production after a steroid cycle, and has no idea how it got into his body.

He said during training camp that he has a unique medical condition _ “overtrained athlete syndrome” _ that led to the positive test. Cushing said the syndrome can trigger hormonal spikes after breaks in training. The NFL denied on appeal based on the argument.

Cushing would not address questions about his medical condition on Wednesday, other than to say he was relieved to finally have the suspension behind him.

“It’s peace of mind,” Cushing said. “The last two weeks, it was getting to me a little bit. I was a little on edge. Now, I’m back to doing what I do, and it’s a really mind-clearing kind of feeling. Now, I’m home.”

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