Kubiak gives injury updates

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When Zac Diles broke his left leg last November, he was in the midst of a breakthrough season. A seventh-round draft pick out of Kansas State in 2007, Diles was the Texans' leading tackler with 66 through eight games.

Now, Diles is one of several Texans rehabbing from an injury in preparation for the 2009 season. He's joined by the likes of rookie cornerback Antwaun Molden (fractured ankle) and defensive end Earl Cochran (turf toe).

Diles broke his tibia when he tripped over his own feet during a half-speed special teams drill during practice, dealing a major blow to the Texans' defense at midseason.

"It was very significant," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "First off, he was probably playing as good of football as anybody we had on defense, and the way he got hurt at practice—just a freak accident. It was very, very disappointing, but I think Zac's progress has been excellent. Between he and Molden, he should probably be the one out there a lot quicker."

Kubiak expects Diles to be able to participate in most of the Texans' offseason activities.

"It's my understanding that Zac could actually maybe do some of our OTA work," he said. "By training camp, he should be 100 percent, and then Molden, I think we're looking at training camp. But you never know. Here over the course of the next couple of months, we'll have a better feel for their progress."

Molden fractured his left ankle on a special teams play against the Titans on Dec. 14. A third-round draft pick out of Eastern Kentucky, he had seen limited action on defense but was an impact special teams player, recording 19 tackles and a fumble recovery.

"I think the disappointing thing with him is that we were starting to play him (at corner) when he did get hurt," Kubiak said. "So he missed out on some valuable playing time, but he's a smart young man. He's a smart worker. He's a hard worker.

{QUOTE}"The injury he has, players have come back from and ended up playing a long, long time. So, I don't have any doubt he'll handle his business."

Kubiak said he was impressed with the jump that Diles made between his first and second seasons, and he now will hope to see the same improvement out of Molden.

Cochran, a fourth-year player out of Alabama State, suffered a turf toe injury in his right foot at Indianapolis on Nov. 16. He was making his first start of the season at defensive tackle in that game after recording a sack in both of the Texans' two previous games.

"(The injury) concerns me, and the reason it concerns me with a player like Earl is because he has had a lot of injuries," Kubiak said. "He's had a lot of nicks throughout his time here with me in the three years I've been here. Earl, when he's on the field and healthy, is a big-time contributor on our football team, but him settling his body down and being out there for 16 weeks is the key to his career, not just next year."

Cochran is a restricted free agent this offseason.

"I feel like I proved that if you give me time and put me in a position, I'm going to learn how to play that position to the best of my ability and give you the best that I have on the field," Cochran said. "And if at a position for a period of time, I'll become the best at that position.

"I'll be ready for the season. Everything's up in the air. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a hard worker and I'll be ready to go when it's time to strap on the helmets and pads and everything, so they know what they're going to get from me."

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