ILB Brian Cushing will return 'sooner rather than later' from sprained MCL

HOUSTON -- Texans inside linebacker Brian Cushing will return "sooner rather than later" after he sprained his medial collateral ligament (MCL) in Sunday's 23-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Cushing will be fine, but he will not be back on the field for “a bit.”

Cushing suffered the injury early in the first quarter; he played just nine defensive snaps on Sunday.

Without Cushing, the Texans will lean on inside linebackers Benardrick McKinney and Max Bullough, especially on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Chiefs running back Spencer Ware had a big game in Week 1, finishing with 199 yards of total offense. McKinney and Bullough will lead the charge of stopping the Kansas City backfield, especially if running back Jamaal Charles returns.

McKinney, who played in 98 percent of the Texans’ defensive snaps on Sunday, registered five combined tackles and two quarterback hits against the Chicago Bears.

Bullough replaced Cushing after he left the game, and played in half of the defensive snaps. Bullough said he has learned a lot from Cushing since joining the Texans in 2014 and that it is hard to see him injured.

“You feel for Cush,” Bullough said. “He’s been here for a while, and he’s helped me a lot. I’ve learned a lot from him, so you never want to see a teammate go down regardless of any position. Thoughts are with Cush, and I know he’ll be back as soon as he can.”

After Sunday’s game, O’Brien said losing Cushing is hard because he is the “heart and soul” of the team.

"He's the tone-setter out there," inside linebacker Brian Peters said. "He obviously has the mic; he's making the calls and all that kind of stuff. But the dude plays with his heart on his sleeve. He's a stud and the tempo he plays with is contagious and all the guys follow his lead.”

Cushing has played in 30 of 32 regular-season games the past two seasons but missed time in 2012 after tearing his ACL and again in 2013 after tearing his LCL and breaking his leg. Last season he had 100 combined tackles, including four for a loss and a forced fumble.