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Kubiak facing key personnel decisions


Cornerback Dunta Robinson will be one of the Texans' top priorities in free agency this offseason.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak spent the day meeting with players as they checked out of the locker room before going on vacation. Kubiak spoke to the media about key personnel decisions facing the team in the coming months.

Players first, staff second: Kubiak said that there was no timetable for any possible decisions in regards to coaching staff changes.

Beginning at 6 a.m., Kubiak spent eight hours on Monday evaluating and meeting with players in his office at Reliant Stadium. He addressed the media at 3:15, after which he was set for a year-end meeting with Texans owner Bob McNair.

"I'm following the same procedure I follow after every season: I deal with the players first," Kubiak said. "We'll evaluate some players here over the course of the next 24 hours, meet with Bob, talk about our season. I'll have a good meeting here with him and (vice chairman) Cal (McNair) and go from there."

Kubiak did not comment on media speculation regarding defensive coordinator Richard Smith's future with the team.

"Like I said, I'm in an evaluation period right now," he said. "We'll see. I'm dealing with players today. Mr. McNair and I will have a nice visit here this evening, and then we'll get into the coaching phase sometime tomorrow."

Robinson a wanted man: Cornerback Dunta Robinson, the Texans' career interceptions leader with 13, will be a free agent this offseason. He said on Moday that he wants to finish his career with the Texans, and Kubiak let Robinson know during their one-on-one meeting that the feeling is mutual.

"I told him I want him back on our football team," Kubiak said. "I understand the business. I understand the world he's in as far as free agency goes and those type of things. But I think the world of Dunta and I know we're a better football team when he's played for us.

"But I also understand there's a lot of work to be done to get that done. I had a good visit with him, and so we'll see what happens."

Robinson, whom the Texans drafted 10th overall in 2004, missed the first six games of the 2008 season while rehabbing severe knee and hamstring injuries. Once he returned to the field, he helped to spark a late-season turnaround for the Texans' defense. The Texans finished the season 5-1 in games with Robinson in the starting lineup.

Shanahan calls first game:When Kubiak was asked why the Texans were so effective in the red zone yesterday, scoring three touchdowns in four trips, he revealed that first-year offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was entirely in charge of play-calling for the first time in his career.

The youngest coordinator in the league at age 29, Shanahan gained Kubiak's confidence while splitting play-calling duties with him over the course of the season.

"He called his first NFL game and he called a great game," Kubiak said. "I thought it was time. I walked in the office Friday and I told him he was calling the game, and he did a hell of a job."

Kubiak, the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator for 11 years, appeared to indicate that he will continue to give way to Shanahan next season.

"I think it's about me getting comfortable," Kubiak said. "I think it's a process. I just got more and more comfortable throughout the season. I felt very good about the job he did, the way he went about his business, and it's a comforting feeling for me as we move forward."

Gibbs and Rhodes to return?: The status of veteran coaches Alex Gibbs and Ray Rhodes, who both joined the Texans' staff last offseason, will be an item to watch in the coming weeks.

Gibbs, in his 24th NFL season, served as assistant head coach/offense and revamped the Texans' running game. Houston averaged a franchise-record 4.3 yards per carry this season in Gibbs' zone scheme after gaining only 3.8 yards per rush attempt in 2007.

According to Kubiak, Gibbs' contract expires in mid-February. Kubiak is hopeful that the veteran coach, his mentor for years in Denver, will return next season after spending the month of January resting at home.

"What he meant to our coaching staff, to me personally, to all of us, to Kyle as a first-year coordinator, it was exceptional," Kubiak said. "Not only with the offensive line but with the whole football team, he brings a lot of energy to what you're doing.

"At this stage in Alex's career, it really is about him enjoying what he's doing, enjoying where he's doing it. I hate to speak for him, but I think he enjoyed the season. The passion was there, but he like everybody else just needs to regroup right now and we'll see."

Rhodes, joining the Texans for his 28th season in 2008, served as the Texans' assistant defensive backs coach. A former NFL Coach of the Year, Rhodes was Seattle's defensive coordinator as recently as 2005 but had to leave the position due to health reasons.

"I'm expecting Ray to come back and help our football team in some capacity," Kubiak said. "I think he definitely helped us. I know he helped me. As we moved forward throughout the season, there were many things I bounced off of him on a week-to-week basis. I think a lot of Ray Rhodes, and like I said, I expect him to be here helping us again."

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