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Faggins continues to compete


Last season, did not go the way Demarcus "Petey" Faggins had envisioned it would. The cornerback, who had earned a starting spot with the Texans in 2005, struggled in coverage and was made a reserve midway through the last year.

"It was a hard season on him," defensive back coach Jon Hoke said. "It was hard mentally for him. He lost some confidence. At his position, when you lose confidence, it's hard to get it back. You've got to have some good things happen to you, and it just didn't seem like good things were happening to him."

Faggins' woes began in Week 2 when he gave up two touchdowns in the first quarter to Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith.

In a Week 4 loss to Atlanta, Faggins accounted for 38 of the team's 78 penalty yards against the Falcons. He was moved to nickel back partway through the second half of the game and replaced by Jamar Fletcher.

{QUOTE}After a Week 8 loss to San Diego, Faggins lost his starting position for the remainder of the season.

"It was hard, but they were doing the best for the team at the time," Faggins said. "My coaches just told me to keep my head up and keep working at it because they never really doubted me or my talent."

The coaches also needed Faggins to step up and contribute, especially after cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9. So Hoke took the Faggins to the film room to help restore his confidence.

"You try to show him plays and say, 'This is what you were doing when you were playing well. These are the good things that you can do,'" Hoke said. "You've got to try to get him back that way. That's what you have to do as a coach; then, he's got to take some of that on himself and try to get himself back."

That's what Faggins has been doing in the offseason.

"Mentally, I just let all of that go," Faggins said. "I just remembered all the good things that happened and got my confidence back up. Physically, I just tried to stay in shape.

"It's a lot of competition coming in, but I'll take that every year. No matter if they bring somebody new in or just take the same old guys, I just like to compete."

Faggins will face stiff competition during OTAs and training camp. Fred Bennett is assured a starting spot after leading the team in interceptions with three during his rookie season last year.

During free agency, the Texans signed cornerback Jacques Reeves, who started in Dallas last season. The fifth-year pro boasts tremendous speed and excels in man coverage.

Rookie Antwaun Molden, a third-round round draft pick, is an extremely quick and physical corner. Hoke has compared Molden to Bennett and thinks the rookie could play on special teams.

Fletcher, an eighth-year pro, is coming off a solid 2007 season where he recorded three passes defensed and his first career forced fumble.

The competition doesn't bother Faggins. He understands that he needs to prove himself all over again, just like he did in 2002 when the Texans drafted him in the sixth round.

"It's all right with me because like I said, you've got to compete no matter what happens," Faggins said. "You've got to come out here and make plays. The bottom line is you've got to make plays. That's how I'm going to take it."

Hoke said it's too early to tell how Faggins will fit into the secondary next season.

"Right now, we've got Fred and Jacques playing the corners," Hoke said. "He (Faggins) backing is up both sides. In Nickel, he does come in because we move Fred inside. But it's early. There are a lot of things that can happen. Right now, he's a role player and he understands that."

Faggins does, indeed. But that doesn't mean he will settle for a reserve role. The seventh-year pro has battled through the league's ups and downs and he believes he can make a statement in 2008.

"I know the defense now and I can play ball," Faggins said. "I can cover. This year, coming in with the secondary, hopefully, we'll be the best secondary in the NFL and make lots of turnovers."

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