No rust for Robinson in first practice

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Two days after signing his one-year franchise tender, cornerback Dunta Robinson practiced with his teammates for the first time in more than nine months on Tuesday morning.

Robinson had worked with head strength coach Ray Wright and head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan apart from his teammates on Sunday as the Texans gauged his conditioning level.

"He came out of the workouts on Sunday very good and looked good moving around today," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "So we'll just take it day by day and see if we can get him ready to go."

Kubiak said on Sunday that he expects Robinson to play less than 60-70 snaps against the Jets. But Robinson, who spent his offseason doing speed and technique training at facilities in New Jersey and Florida, said he was surprised at his comfort level on the field on his first day of practice.

"It felt really good, actually; better than I thought my first day running around with a helmet on would be," Robinson said. "I thought I was going to feel a little rusty, but I felt fine. It was a good start."

Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, happy to once again line up on the opposite side of the field as Robinson, agreed.

"He looked pretty good," Johnson said. "He looked like he's been out there for a while. You can tell he's definitely been doing some football stuff on his own. It's great to have him back out there."

{QUOTE}It won't be evident in practice this week, but Robinson's teammates know that he brings a hard-hitting presence to the team's secondary. The Texans ranked 23rd against the run last season and struggled to stop the run in the preseason, giving up 100-yard games to New Orleans' Mike Bell and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson in consecutive weeks.

"We were missing a key piece out there on our defense," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "To have him back is great. It uplifted me and uplifted the whole team to see him come in on Monday. "

The Texans have a unique situation looming on Sunday. Neither Robinson nor rookie linebacker Brian Cushing played in the preseason, Robinson because of his holdout and Cushing because of a knee injury, but both will start against the Jets and be counted on in a big way.

"As we get out there and play our first game and continue to play throughout the season, I think that's when you'll realize what kind of defense we are," Robinson said. "But the potential for this defense, the sky is the limit. We've got to stay healthy and we live up to that potential, myself and all the other players on this defense.

"This is the first time I actually looked around and I was like, 'Wow, I think we've got something here.' Now it's about translating it over to the field."

The improved talent on thedefense isn't the only thing new for Robinson. He also is enjoying playing in a new scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Frank Bush.

"It doesn't make you need to think a whole lot," Robinson said. "Just go out there and understand what you've got to do and go make plays. I've only sat down and gone over it for about three days now, but I felt comfortable out there today."

The more comfortable that Robinson gets, his teammates know, the better.

"I always said that he's a person we need in order to get to where we want to be," Johnson said. "He's a big part of this organization, a big part of the team, so it's great to have him back."

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