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Robinson recovering; eager to return


There's plenty to be excited about around Reliant Stadium this week, with the Texans signing numerous free agents and the start of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Add one more thing to that list:

Dunta Robinson is back.

The Texans' star cornerback, who tore his ACL and hamstring against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 4, recently returned to Houston after months of rehabilitation in Birmingham, Ala., where the surgery on his left leg was performed.

Robinson said he's thrilled to be back at home and around his coaches and teammates. And he has a bold prediction for the upcoming season, in which he has been speculated to miss at least eight games as he recovers from his devastating injuries.

"I'm thinking I'm probably playing 10-12 games next season," he said Thursday. "I'll probably start the year off on Physically Unable to Perform (list) and I think that's either 4-6 games that I'll be out, and I'll be back. I'll be back way ahead of schedule.

"Sorry to disappoint the people that thought I was going to be out for a year, year and a half – that's not going to happen. Dunta Robinson will play in 2008."

No one is more excited about that possibility than Texans defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, who has tutored Robinson since the corner's rookie season in 2004.

"It'd be huge, because obviously you're getting a Pro Bowl-caliber type player," Hoke said. "He was having that type of season before he got hurt. He has a lot of talent and raw ability. Any time you get a very good football player (like Robinson) back, that's big for your football team. There's no question about that."

Since Monday, Robinson has been working daily with Texans athletic trainer Tom Colt in the team pool and weight room to strengthen his leg and increase the stabilization in his hip and pelvis. On Thursday, he arrived at the stadium at 9:30 a.m. and didn't leave until 2 p.m.

Colt cautions that it's difficult to put a timeframe on Robinson's recovery, but notes the progress the cornerback has made.

"Dunta had a significant knee injury, and (considering) the complexity of his knee injury, he is doing pretty well," Colt said. "Given that, though … it's tough to define how he should be doing in terms of time. His knee is moving reasonably well. His strength is good. He's so far making good strides."

{QUOTE}Robinson said he had never missed a game in his career, including Pee Wee football, prior to the injury. He knows it will be painstakingly difficult for him to miss even one more game this upcoming season.

But since the day his injury occurred, Robinson has been at peace with the incident. He has not been bitter or down, as his trademark disarming smile will attest to. He is, rather, intent on working his hardest to overcome this bit of fate.

"You know, a lot of guys say, 'Man, I wish this would've never happened.' It happened to me," Robinson said. "So now, the only other thing I knew I could do was just work hard and make sure I get back and not complain, not worry about why it happened or why it didn't happen to somebody else. You know, it was my time.

"I'm just focused on working as hard as I possibly can and just doing everything the doctors tell me to do. That's what I've done so far, and I think that's why I'm at the point I'm at right now."

That attitude has been crucial in his progress thus far.

"He's competitive by nature," Hoke said. "He's really not a big man for his position, but he plays big. And the reason he does that is because he's extremely competitive. So what he does, from a rehab standpoint, is he's not going to let it beat him. He's going to beat it. To him, it's all about winning, and so that's what he's trying to do. He's trying to win and prove everybody wrong that he'll be ready before everybody thinks he will be."

Whatever the date of his eventual return, one thing is certain: Robinson has progressed immeasurably since his first month of rehab, a difficult time in which he was working out for a grueling eight hours a day, Monday through Saturday.

"I'm feeling a lot better now," he said. "I've still got a ways to go, but I'm a long ways from where I started and I'm excited about that."

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