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Robinson provides lift in return


After coming out of the tunnel in style in pregame introductions, Robinson played 25 snaps and had two tackles in his first game in almost a year.

It was a long road back for Dunta Robinson.

On Sunday, the cornerback conquered a devastating knee and hamstring injury, multiple surgeries and 49 weeks of vigorous rehab in a triumphant return to the field in the Texans' win over the Detroit Lions.

Robinson played 25 snaps in the game, lining up as the Texans' nickel back in passing situations. He finished with two tackles and, more importantly, provided an inspirational lift to his teammates. Robinson received a rousing ovation from the Reliant Stadium crowd when he was the last player announced in pregame introductions.

"It was an emotional time for me," he said. "I wondered all week what was going to happen when I walked out on the field for the first time. My dad told me I better not cry on TV, so I made sure of that.

"I felt good, though. Once I got out on the field and the ball snapped, everything else went out the window. It was time to play football then. My knee did a lot better than I thought it would."

After the game, Robinson said he didn't feel knee any soreness in his knee and that it actually felt better during the game than it had in practice this week.

"I don't know if it's just adrenaline rush or if it's just not going to be sore, but it's not sore at all," he said.

Known as one of the hardest pound-for-pound hitters in the NFL, Robinson missed a tackle early in the game and wasn't at his best in coverage on a couple of other plays.

He admitted to being rusty after the game, which isn't surprising considering that the three practices he participated in this week were his only ones since before his injury occurred last Nov. 4 at Oakland.

"It's been a long time," he said. "I went out and I felt like I was in my first game as a rookie again. I was forgetting calls. I was so excited to just be out on the field, I forgot a couple of calls and I had to ask the safety, 'Hey, what am I supposed to do on this?' And I've done it all week in practice. But that was just the excitement of the game and the emotions of the game taking over.

{QUOTE}"I knew that I was a little rusty. I knew that I missed some tackles and did some things that I normally don't do, but it's been almost a year since I've been out on the football field. But I am my own worst critic. I took those plays kind of hard, but I bounced back and just went out there and played football at the end."

Even though Robinson participated in a limited number of plays, the mere sight of him on the field instead of on the sidelines gave a boost to his teammates. The Texans' defense limited the Lions to three points and 137 yards in the first half.

"It was fun seeing Dunta out there, just being able to play with him again and have him on the field," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "Just his presence, I think it uplifted our defense and it helped everyone else pick up their level of play and play a lot better."

Cornerback Fred Bennett, who Robinson has mentored since their days together at South Carolina, couldn't contain his excitement when Robinson came out of the tunnel during pregame introductions.

"I was so excited, I had to meet him halfway," Bennett said. "Just to see him, what he'd been through, and seeing him rehab and just trying to work hard to get back on the field with us, I was just so excited. I got emotional, just happy to see him out there."

In Robinson's grand pregame entrance, he came out of the tunnel jumping up and down to a frenzied roar from the crowd. After the game, Robinson explained how the celebratory dance came to be.

"I'm thinking I'm just going to come out with my helmet on and wave at the crowd, and Travis (Johnson) being the wild man that he is, he took my helmet," Robinson said. "I went out there and all our guys, they were in the back choreographing their dances and stuff and I was like, 'Man, I don't have a dance. What am I going to do?'

"I walked out, and it was so exciting to hear my name again, emotions just took over. I just started jumping around like a clown. But it was fun."

This was the first game in which Robinson could return. When the Texans placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list before the season started, it made Robinson ineligible to play or practice with the team until after Week 6.

He had up to three weeks to practice with the team before they would have had to make a decision to either promote him to the active roster or place him on injured reserve. But chances were slim to none that Robinson, who's been itching to get back on the field, was going to miss any more time than he had to.

"I knew he would be back," Ryans said. "It's not surprising that he's back this soon, because he's just a competitor. He's a hard worker. And I know he would've been back – probably wanted to come back sooner than that, but they wouldn't let him. But he's definitely a big-time playmaker and a big-time player for our team."

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