METAIRIE, La. -- Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing had his four-game suspension for taking a performance-enhancing drug upheld by the NFL on Thursday, which means he won't be eligible to play until October.
The reigning Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year was suspended in May for testing positive for HCG, a fertility drug that is on the NFL's banned substances list. Cushing claims that he has a unique medical condition that triggered the positive test.
"At the request of Texans owner Bob McNair, commissioner [Roger] Goodell reviewed additional medical information presented on behalf of Brian Cushing," the NFL said in a statement.
"The club and Cushing were notified today that after carefully considering all the information, including a review by outside medical experts, the commissioner finds no basis for changing the decision that Mr. Cushing's suspension for the first four games of the regular season remains in place."
Cushing missed practice Thursday with a foot injury and was not available to comment.
The former first-round draft pick started every game at outside linebacker last season, making 133 tackles and helping solidify the Houston defense. The Texans went 9-7 and just missed the AFC playoffs, their first winning record in their eight-year franchise history.
"We move forward. One guy goes down, the next guy just steps in," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "Expectations don't drop. We just keep pushing."
Cushing's suspension does not apply to the preseason. Houston, which practiced Wednesday and Thursday with defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans in Metaire, La., will play the Saints Saturday at the Louisiana Superdome.
Before the decision was announced by the league office, Texans safety Bernard Pollard talked about Cushing during an interview with ESPN.com.
"Cushing's going to be missed, he's a great piece to this puzzle, but they are not going to stop the games because he's not playing," Pollard said. " . . . We have to back him at whatever he does. That's out teammate, we love our teammate.
"He knows and understands for every decision you make, there are consequences. He has to understand that for everything you do, we have to hold each other accountable. Cush is a great man, he's a great player. And when he comes back we're going to be ready to play ball."
Asked whether he expects Cushing to play, coach Gary Kubiak replied: "I sure hope so."
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky was used in this report.