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Long journey back for Molden


Texans cornerback Antwaun Molden's return from injury is nearly complete.

Life's a little different these days for Antwaun Molden.

The grass is a little greener. The thick Houston air is a little fresher. And the chance to put pads on to deal out and sometimes receive a little pain is a sweet feeling for the second-year cornerback.

The Eastern Kentucky product has rejoined his teammates after a lengthy recovery from a left ankle fracture. He couldn't be happier.

"I'm grateful," Molden said of his return. "There was a lot of time to sit back and think. I've been out for nine months and I'm definitely looking forward to playing. I need to take advantage of this beautiful opportunity."

As a rookie in 2008, Molden was a special teams maven, finishing with 19 punt and kickoff coverage tackles, a total that was second best on the Texans' roster.

"He was playing well for us before he got hurt," coach Gary Kubiak said of Molden, whose season ended last December in a game against the Titans. "He's a really fine player."

With the secondary depth thinner than normal due to the absence of Dunta Robinson and the fractured left fibula of Jacques Reeves, the next few weeks are a huge opportunity for Molden.

{QUOTE}"I'm excited about what I can contribute to the defense, because we have a good group," Molden said. "When you think of Frank Bush and his character, he definitely brings personality to this defense. We're excited about this season."

Kubiak doesn't expect Molden to start against the Vikings on Monday Night Football, but the head coach certainly isn't discounting the possible impact that Molden can provide.

"It could be huge," Kubiak said. "It's a great opportunity for him to crack a lineup, in a lot of ways. We've got young guys out there, so it will be interesting to see how far he comes. But we have to be smart, too. He's not going to go out there and play as much as a starter."

In the months after his injury last December, Molden had plenty of time to contemplate the future. The 2008 third-round pick realized that life wouldn't be as rosy without the chance to play football.

"It definitely hit home," Molden said. "I just go out there and play every down as if it will be my last. That's one thing you take with you, and you never know if something like this is going to happen again."

Even though he wasn't able to go through OTAs and parts of training camp on the field with his teammates, Molden still says he made the most of his time by finding other ways to get better. Now that he's able to practice, he believes the extra hours watching film have paid off.

"I just take every day and get better in the film room and transfer my technique onto the field," Molden said. "The thing for me was just to get better in my technique."

The journey back for Molden still isn't complete, but he knows one thing: He's grateful for the chance to return and certainly won't take it for granted.

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