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DBs backing up their pro talk


Texans defensive coordinator Frank Bush has made it clear that his defense needs athletic big hitters who can create turnovers. A handful of defensive backs in the East-West Shrine game are trying to prove that they fit the bill.

Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher (6-2, 200) has garnered interest from talent evaluators this week because of his size and speed. He's rangy and can deflect passes, but he also can make plays against the run.

"I want to prove that I can come up in the run and I can do a lot of things that the NFL looks for in their cornerbacks," Fletcher said. "That's what I look forward to doing this coming weekend."

In Iowa's 31-10 victory over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, Fletcher made a key interception. He had an impressive pick during the 7-on-7 portion of a Shrine practice this week.

"I feel I have some speed," Fletcher said. "I feel I can guard these receivers. I look forward to running a good 40 time and doing some of the vertical jumps and bench press (at the NFL Scouting Combine)."

USC's Cary Harris (6-0, 180) is another cornerback who with solid skills in coverage and run support. He knocked Boise State running back Ian Johnson to the ground and had a pick in practice, but he missed Thursday's workout and could be questionable for the game.

{QUOTE}At 5-10, 186, Texas cornerback Ryan Palmer may be undersized, but he can play big. As a starter for the Longhorns, he made plays on the ball and excelled coverage.

Another undersized corner with good instincts is Oregon State's Brandon Hughes.

"I have good range," Hughes said. "But more importantly, I believe my smarts, my football IQ are going to be what benefit me most at the next level. And obviously, I can change directions.

"I love physical defense. If it's not physical, I don't want to be a part of it - and when I say physical, I don't mean just about me. I mean for the other 10 guys that are on the field. If you're not playing physical football, there's no reason to be on the field, in my opinion. You don't have to make the prettiest tackle, but put your pads on them."

LSU's Curtis Taylor (6-3, 204) has an ideal build for an NFL safety and believes he possesses the straight-line speed and power at the line of scrimmage to succeed at the next level.

"I'm a long, rangy guy," Taylor said. "I cover the field real well and I'm a guy that just has great ball instincts, one that gets the ball every play."

Glover Quin (5-11, 200) was a late invite this week, but he is making the most of his time by proving his versatility. Although he was a starting cornerback at New Mexico, he primarily has been lining up at safety and playing just about any position on special teams.

"I try to be a physical, explosive guy at the corner," Quin said. "I'm almost 200 pounds at the corner, but I like to be flexible to go play safety. I'm a special teams guy. I want to return kicks. I want to cover kicks. I want to bring anything that I can to the table to try to get in and help somebody win."

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