Brian Cushing grateful still to be playing after “over 20” surgeries

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Linebacker Brian Cushing has undergone so many surgeries since the Texans made him a first-round pick in 2009 that he’s lost count. He knows it’s “over 20.”

“There were times when I thought I might not be able to play anymore,” Cushing said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “It’s taken a lot of hard work, but I’m still able to come out there and play the game I love.

“It’s been a collective effort by a lot of people, from the trainers and coaches to my wife and parents. I’m very grateful and feel blessed to be able to play.”

Cushing has missed 29 games with injuries in his eight seasons.

Although his only Pro Bowl season came his rookie season, Cushing remains the “heart and soul” of the Texans defense, according to coach Bill O’Brien.

“It means a lot,” Cushing said. “I’m going into my ninth year, and I’ve been a passionate player my entire life. I love football, and I enjoy coming out here every day and competing and getting better.

“Every offseason, you miss [playing]. The older I get, the more I miss it every offseason and realize how much I still enjoy competing and playing. I love the game more and more.”