The Houston Texans are expecting the worst news possible from today's evaluation of linebacker Brian Cushing's left knee injury.
The tests Tuesday were considered a formality to confirm Cushing is out of the season with a torn ACL.
He was injured on a cut block by New York Jets offensive guard Matt Slauson in the second quarter. There was no penalty on the play and the block is legal.
"I got cut," Cushing told USA Today. "I got cut on a run play. It happens. I was just keeping my head up. Whatever happens, happens. It's football. It's part of the game."
Cushing was the Texans' leading tackler this season. Surviving injuries is not a new challenge in Houston.
Coach Gary Kubiak said Monday night that the Texans were prepared to deal with adversity over the past two or three seasons when wide receiver Andre Johnson, quarterback Matt Schaub and defensive end Mario Williams -- who left in free agency to sign with the Buffalo Bills in March -- were lost for extended periods. All could've made an argument for being the team's most vital individual performer at the time of their injuries.
"I don't know who told me one time -- he said there are always two or three crises in a season," Kubiak said. "If this is our first one, then we've got to be ready for it. But one thing we learned last year is that we're a team. And we're going to win and lose as a team."
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips told The Sports Xchange last week that one of the underrated aspects of his defense is its depth. The players behind top defensive players such as J.J. Watt and Jonathan Joseph aren't yet household names, but Phillips voiced confidence in the "next man up" at all 11 spots on his defense.
The injury underlines the importance of bringing in veteran inside linebacker Bradie James. He signed as a free agent after playing under Phillips for part of his nine-year tenure with the Cowboys, including seven seasons as a fulltime starter.
James, the Texans' starter at right inside linebacker in each of the first five games, will be joined in the starting lineup by Tim Dobbins. Dobbins, a seventh-year pro, played in the 3-4 with the Chargers and Dolphins before he joined the Texans in August 2011.
"We have guys ready to step in," Phillips. "They'll do exactly what we expect."