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All eyes on Faggins and cornerbacks


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No one needs to tell Demarcus Faggins anything.

The Texans cornerback had a rough game last week and plenty of people noticed.

Most of all, Faggins noticed.

"I'm the worst critic of all on myself," Faggins said of the talk about his play. "It's been hard, but it won't be any harder than I've been on myself. No matter what anybody else says about it, I'm the hardest to deal with."

It had to be an encouraging sign that Faggins was hiding from no one on the Texans' first day back in practice Wednesday. Some players wilt from criticism like a flower in a blizzard. Faggins took on all questions, including about how he felt after getting taken out in the second half last Sunday after two pass interference penalties.

"That happens," the sixth-year player out of Kansas State said. "That's just part of the game. As a corner, you've just got to let that go by. You've just got to let it go and try to come back and play the best you can.

"It was hard. I wasn't used to it. A couple pass interferences, you know, but it happens. That's just part of the game, so you've just got to let that go by."

Now some wonder if Faggins will be demoted. Faggins won't concern himself with it.

{QUOTE}"The way I take it, I let the coaches make that decision," said the player known as Petey. "I'm going to continue to go out there and do what I do. I've been here for a long time. I've been playing the game. So I know what I've got to do to change it; I've got to get out there and just continue to work hard and continue to try to make plays."

Coach Gary Kubiak isn't sure Faggins needs to change much.

"Petey's our starter," Kubiak said emphatically. "I believe in him. He'll be there starting this weekend.

"He's going to play well. He's had a few misfortunate plays which happen in football if you're a corner. That's part of the business. You've got to have a short memory, so I expect him to come back and play well this week."
Playing is Kubiak's prescription to cure the problem.

"I think you've got to go back and play," Kubiak said. "I think playing corner in this league is a lot like playing quarterback. You go out and throw three picks or four picks, and the space from being a hero to a goat in this league at that position – there's not much in between there.

"He's just got to have a short memory and go back and play. If he gets the ball coming his way, his confidence goes way back up and he starts playing well. We believe in him, and I'm expecting him to play well."

Faggins feels the same.

"I wouldn't say there's anything I can do different," he said. "I've just got to go out there and play more aggressively. I've just got to go out and try to make plays. The coaches here are new and they know what they're doing. They're not going to make decisions based on one game."

Cornerbacks Jamar Fletcher and Fred Bennett played more last week and that plan should continue.

"Fletch works inside at nickel," Kubiak said. "They're both doing a good job and we're trying to find a way to get them on the field, whether that's at nickel or whether that's base. With Fred, it's strictly been a hamstring and he hadn't done much for two weeks until last Friday, and that seems to have changed because he's gotten better."

Bennett concurs.

"I'm 100 percent," he said. "I'm ready to go this week. Thanks to my trainers, they got me right, so I'm ready."

Bennett won't predict how much he will play.

"Whatever my coaches want," he said. "It depends on them how many reps I get. Whatever they want me to do, I just go with the flow.

"The last couple of weeks in practice, they had me in there a little bit, rotating me around. My coach (defensive backs coach Jon Hoke) has been in my ear. He's been coaching me real hard, preparing me, and I'm just ready to go."

Whoever plays, the DBs know they must improve.

"We all need to get better, me included," Fletcher said. "Our whole defense has to step up. But we will. We're getting better week to week and we will continue getting better."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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