Coming off an injury-plagued season in 2009 and an injury-shortened season in 2008, cornerback Antwaun Molden is enjoying a healthy offseason as he prepares for the start of training camp on Friday.
A third-round draft pick in 2008, Molden has been working out twice a day, four times a week. He's no longer bothered by the chronic quad and hamstring injuries that sidelined him last season, and Texans coach Gary Kubiak said during OTAs that he "has the ability to start" if he can stay on the field.
"I'm looking forward," Molden (6-2, 198, 4.38 speed) said in a recent interview. "Being healthy allows me to compete. Any time you have a great number of corners like we do, it heightens the anticipation to come. It raises the competition level. And so I think every corner in here is looking forward to competing (in) this training camp."
Molden is part of a youth movement in the Texans' secondary. Only two of the Texans' eight cornerbacks have more than two seasons of NFL experience, Jacques Reeves (six) and Fred Bennett (three). Projected starters Glover Quin, a 2009 rookie, and Kareem Jackson, a 2010 rookie, have one season of experience combined.
In his own rookie season out of Eastern Kentucky, Molden was second on the team with 19 special teams tackles before breaking his ankle in kickoff coverage. The injury came in the 14th game of the season, at a time when Molden was starting to be eased into the lineup on defense.
He never really got on track in his second season, missing games with a variety of injuries before being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 26. Looking back, Molden said it was the first time he had dealt with a serious lower body injury in his career.
"It was pretty tough," he said. "Individually, you have high expectations. Me, I'm a competitor. I love to compete, I love to learn, I love the game of football. It definitely put stress on me because I wanted to be out there and I wanted to help the team, I wanted to get better and go out there and have fun, too. Momentum-wise, it definitely hurt me. However, I love to work hard, and so hopefully that seed that I planted in hard work will reap something good."
Look for more comments from Molden in an extensive podcast interview, coming soon on HoustonTexans.com.