On Wednesday night, PFT reported that Texans linebacker Brian Cushing will miss at least one game due to lingering issues with his surgically-reconstructed knee. On Thursday, coach Bill O’Brien disputed the report.
“First of all, no, I wasn’t aware of that report,” O’Brien told reporters on Thursday. “I was trying to figure out how to try to get a first down against the Tennessee Titans because it was third-down night. And secondly, there is no accuracy to that report.”
O’Brien’s reaction is predictable. Schooled in the art of injury misdirection from his time with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, O’Brien knows he’s required to disclose only whether and to what extent a guy has practiced in the week preceding a game, and then eventually to apply a label to an injured player — out, doubtful, questionable, or probable.
Even if O’Brien knows Cushing won’t play on Sunday (and Cushing won’t play), O’Brien gains nothing from admitting it on Thursday. Admitting it on Thursday eliminates the possibility of listing Cushing as questionable, extending until Sunday morning the uncertainty for the Titans as to whether Cushing will play.
Indeed, the signs already are pointing toward the 50-50 “questionable” label for Cushing, who did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday.
“I think he feels he’s getting better every day,” O’Brien said. “I think coming off that [ACL] injury, you know, postgame is always, there is a lot of soreness. We have to ease him back into the week. Like how we say, he’s day-to-day. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. We’ll bring him to Tennessee and we’ll see how he is before the game.”
Yep, Cushing will be questionable on Friday. And then on Sunday, the pregame shows that no one will be watching because of the Lions-Falcons game that starts at 9:30 a.m. ET will have a stream of reports that Cushing, while listed as questionable, won’t play.
And probably that linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, while listed as questionable, will.