In the words of defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, "Our boy is back!" Dunta Robinson has returned to Reliant Stadium after spending nearly three months in Birmingham, Ala. rehabbing a torn ACL and hamstring in his left leg.
The injury, which he suffered on Nov. 4 against the Raiders, would have ended most athletes' careers. Not Dunta.
Dunta could be one of the toughest players in the league. Pound-for-pound no one hits harder. When Dunta went down in Oakland, the Texans' medical staff wanted to fly him home separately. The cornerback insisted on joining the team on the charter plane to celebrate the victory.
As I watched him crutch down the aisle trying to mask his pain, I thought, "If any person can recover from this, it's Dunta." He puts his team first and he simply loves the game of football.
That's why he is relentlessly rehabbing for almost six hours a day with Texans trainer Tom Colt.
"He's not a guy that's going to get down when he makes a mistake," Colt said. "I don't think he gets to his level as an athlete without having that drive to excel and competitiveness, which has made him a successful athlete to this point. He has such a good attitude toward his rehabilitation"
It's a positivity that I got to witness firsthand. On Thursday, Dunta talked to me after enduring a strenuous and painful day of workouts.
His left leg was noticeably thinner, but his smile was as big as always as he talked about his road to recovery.
"You know, a lot of guys say, 'Man, I wish this would've never happened.' It happened to me," Dunta said. "So now, the only other thing I knew I could do was just work hard and make sure I get back and not complain, not worry about why it happened or why it didn't happen to somebody else. You know, it was my time.
"I'm just focused on working as hard as I possibly can and just doing everything the doctors tell me to do. That's what I've done so far, and I think that's why I'm at the point I'm at right now."
Dunta also told me he is determined to play in at least 10 games next season.
"I'll probably start the year off on Physically Unable to Perform (list) and I think that's either 4-6 games that I'll be out, and I'll be back," Dunta said. "I'll be back way ahead of schedule.
"Sorry to disappoint the people that thought I was going to be for a year, year and a half – that's not going to happen. Dunta Robinson will play in 2008."
Fans, you heard it first here. Dunta is back and he will be on the field next season.