"What I envision is being the clear-cut best middle linebacker in the NFL," Cushing said Wednesday as the Texans officially announced his contract extension. "It's something that I want. I think that I can get there, I know that I can get there. Obviously it's going to require a lot of work and a couple more years of dominant play."
It's just one example of the similarities between the two Texans players. It's part of why a friendly rivalry sprouted between the two and why when Cushing tore his ACL last year, Watt took over as the defensive leader.
"I kind of groomed J.J. coming in and taught him some ways," Cushing said. "He's just ran with it."
Watt had to earn Cushing's respect. But when Watt earned it, Cushing praised him effusively, saying he might have had one of the best defensive seasons in NFL history.
"We definitely have a little bit of a rivalry but at the same time we look more at ourselves as a duo," Cushing said. "A two-headed monster. Two guys that are going to have to be dealt with for a long time. Feed off of each other. Really are excited to play with one another. It's an unbelievable football player to play with. I feel like he feels that way about me as well."