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Houston Texans

Robinson out, but Kubiak notes progress in win


Robinson is the emotional leader of the defense.

Head coach Gary Kubiak addressed the media in a Monday press conference the day after his team's fourth win of the season, a hard-fought 24-17 victory at Oakland.

Robinson out for season: Cornerback Dunta Robinson crutched off the team's charter plane last night, trying his best to smile as he navigated the narrow aisle. Bearing a grin got even harder when the starter learned Monday that he will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his right knee.

"I'm almost positive he has a torn ACL," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "Whether there is further damage or not, we won't know until tomorrow, but the surgery is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. It's obvious that he's done for this season."

Robinson, who had never missed a start in his four seasons, suffered the injury late in the first quarter when he tackled receiver Ronald Curry. After he grabbed Curry, defensive end Earl Cochran ran in to help and hit Robinson from behind, causing the cornerback's knee to buckle.

The veteran corner had been playing some of the best football of his career and emerged as a defensive leader on the field.

"Our players really think a lot of him," Kubiak said. "I was really excited to see as we got to end of the end of the year here how much the rest of the league thought about his progress come Pro Bowl time and stuff because I think he was having that type of year as a player.

"We're going to miss him. His group will miss him more then anybody because he's the leader of that group. Our football team will miss his toughness, the way he plays the game, the way he goes about it week in and week out."

Replacing Robinson at this point in the season will not be an easy task. Instead of signing a player, the Texans could move safety Von Hutchins to corner. If Hutchins changes positions, then rookie safety Brandon Mitchell probably would move up from the practice squad to back up safety Will Demps.

"Option number one is bringing Mitchell up and moving Von," Kubiak said. "That's option number one. That's the one that we're kind of mulling over right now and thinking about how we feel like that would work out for us. We are looking."

During the bye week, the Texans will also consider trying out cornerback Dexter McCleon. The 10-year veteran out of Clemson was on the team during the preseason before being released at the end of August.

Kubiak said a definite roster decision will be made in two weeks.

Bennett to start:Rookie cornerback Fred Bennett got his first NFL start Sunday, taking the place of DeMarcus Faggins, who has been struggling in coverage this season.

Bennett proved himself to be first-team material, taking a helmet-to-helmet hit in the first half and returning to the game to record his first career interception.

"Fred's become a starter," Kubiak said. "He's played well. He started yesterday and played fine. He was one of our defensive MVPs. He's earned the right now to go forward and hopefully he hangs on to that job for many, many years to come. Fred's earned that right."

With Robinson out, Faggins will likely move to the other side and Hutchins will compete against him for starting duties.

"Von's been a corner in Indianapolis and played in their scheme, in a two-deep scheme, in a three-deep scheme, which we employ quite a bit here," Kubiak said. "We just feel like that's something he would do comfortably. From a competition standpoint, they're all competing. We're going to need them all. They're all going to compete against each other."

Kubiak acknowledged that Faggins will have to pick up his play for the team to be successful, but the coach hopes that keeping the cornerback in one spot instead of rotating him to play in nickel situations will help Faggins play better base defense.

"I think some of the movement that we've created for him may have hurt him a little bit," Kubiak said. "I think settling him down at one spot should help him. He can play better, and he knows that."

Dayne ignites run: The Texans finally executed a balanced attack on offense. The passing game did not have to carry the load as running back Ron Dayne produced 122 yards on the ground and the Texans registered 178 yards rushing on 39 carries.

"If you go back and you look at our games, you look at the last five or six weeks, you can't really find games where you'd say we hung our hat on the run or we ran the ball 35 times," Kubiak said.

"(Dayne) carried the ball 21 times. I think when our team's in position to play that way, then Ronnie's going to probably play pretty well. I think the key is for our football team to be in position to where we can play the game that way. We threw the ball 19 times yesterday. We'd love to be able to do that every week, and we haven't been."

A large part of the problem is that starting rusher Ahman Green has been nursing a sore knee since Week 3 and has been deemed week-to-week for the rest of the season. With Green's situation tenuous each Sunday, Kubiak is considering dressing all three backs the rest of the way.

"I think Ahman and Ronnie are a good complement to each other because they're totally different runners," Kubiak said. "Regardless of how it pans out, it's going to take two of them every week. We'll probably suit three with our issue right now, I think. I felt much better as a coach yesterday having all three of them suited up, so that's something that we'll probably do the rest of the way if we feel the same way we did going into the last game."

The third rusher is Adimchinobi Echemandu, who moved up from the practice squad two weeks ago and led the team on the ground against San Diego with 62 yards rushing.

Sage shows fight:Quarterback Sage Rosenfels arrived at team meetings Monday looking like a boxer with stitches above his eye and bruises on his ribs. The backup quarterback took a beating when he replaced a concussed Matt Schaub.

In just the third start of his career Sunday, Rosenfels completed 11 of 19 passes for 181 yards and battled for a 24-17 victory. Rosenfels' injuries should heal quickly, but if Schaub is still suffering lingering effects from the concussion, Rosenfels will start against the Saints after the bye week.

"Matt's going to go back on that field when I see Matt acting like Matt and feeling like Matt and practicing like Matt, because he was beat up," Kubiak said. "That was a serious hit he took, and I know it was a tough, tough week for him, and we're just not going to all of the sudden go back and throw him to the wolves, so to speak.

"I want to see him practice and prepare and look like himself, and with that being said, I expect Sage to show up here every day, tomorrow, Monday, whatever, expecting himself to play, because I think he's got to have that mindset and get ready to go."

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