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Texans' Brian Cushing suspended 10 games for PED violation

San Antonio Express-News logo San Antonio Express-News 9/13/2017 Aaron Wilson, Staff writer
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CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Texans middle linebacker Brian Cushing has been suspended by the NFL for 10 games for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, a major blow to the NFL's top-ranked defense from a year ago.

This marks the second performance-enhancing drug suspension for the 6-3, 255-pound former USC standout and New Jersey native has been hit with since being drafted in the first round by the Texans in 2009.

There was no immediate comment from Cushing or his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, on the NFL punishment. A statement is expected soon on Cushing's behalf from his Denver-based attorney Harvey Steinberg.

Cushing was suspended for four games in 2010 for a violation of the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy.

Cushing, who had 65 tackles in 13 starts last season and underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason, is eligible to return to the active roster following a Nov. 27 road game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Cushing is due a nonguaranteed base salary of $6.756 million this season and has a $9.319 million salary-cap figure. He forfeits 10 game checks, costing him $3.97 million at a rate of$397,411 per week.

He's due a nonguaranteed $8.5 million salary in 2018 with a $9.7 million salary-cap figure and a $9.5 million salary and salary-cap figure in 2019.

At the time of his first suspension, the former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year said in a statement that he had tested positive for a non-steroidal banned substance. An appeal was unsuccessful.

"I believe we presented compelling evidence during the appeal process to challenge the test results, and I disagree with and am disappointed by the suspension," Cushing said in the statement at the time. "Bound by the decision of the league, I regret the situation it presents to the Texans' organization, my teammates, and our fans.

Cushing had already been ruled out for this game with a concussion. The Texans drafted former Vanderbilt All-Southeastern Conference linebacker Zach Cunningham in the second round. The Texans plan to use Cunningham and undrafted rookie Dylan Cole in place of Cushing, starting Thursday night in a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cushing is a former Pro Bowl selection who's frequently been characterized as the heart and soul of the defense by coach Bill O'Brien.

When he was entering the NFL, Cushing repeatedly denied unconfirmed rumors of performance-enhancing drug use that had followed him ever since his high school days at Bergen Catholic where he was an All-American and the New Jersey High School Player of the Year.

"I've passed every drug test out there and still have," Cushing said in 2009 upon being drafted by the Texans after an All-American and All-Pac-12 career at USC. "I'm not that kind of guy."

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