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Houston Texans

Your Texans: Cornerbacks


Cornerback Dunta Robinson finished the 2006 season with 83 tackles, two interceptions and a touchdown.

Cornerback Dunta Robinson plays tougher than he looks. He's not too imposing at 5-10, 174 pounds. Then he hits someone on the other team, and it's apparent he belongs in the NFL after all.

"If I'm the guy who has to start it off, I don't mind," Robinson said. "Hitting is something I like to do.

"It's contagious. You make one big hit and guys get to talking. It goes in a circle. Everybody wants to get a piece of somebody. You can change the game that way. Hitting has been a part of me from day one."

Robinson has been an instigator of the hitting frenzy since becoming a Texan. Defensive backs coach Jon Hoke would like more Robinson-like players in his secondary.

"He has a lot of talent and raw ability and he's using it more and more," Hoke said. "He's off to one of his better starts. Hopefully, he understands there's a lot of football left to go and he can get better."

{QUOTE}Any discussion of the Texans' cornerbacks begins with Robinson.

Robinson has been the starter in every game since he was chosen by the Texans in the first round of the 2004 draft. He had a sterling rookie season, earning Pro Football Weekly Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He's the corner, opposing quarterbacks try to avoid.

Robinson had three sacks and six interceptions as a rookie.

"He's a headhunter type guy," cornerback Jamar Fletcher said. "He's going to bring a lot of enthusiasm to the game by just the way he plays. I think that's what he's known for and he does it well."

Robinson is the recognized leader of the secondary, especially by his actions on the field.

"On game day we don't really get along too well," Robinson said. "Guys are screaming and saying things you can't say on TV. It's crazy. Some of the things we say are gone when the game's over.

"We're kind of like brothers. We have arguments and five minutes later we're hanging out again. We don't take anything personal. Everyone wants to win."

In an equal universe, coaches would have cornerbacks equally talented and opposing quarterbacks couldn't pick on one of the other.

"It doesn't work that way," Hoke said.

Petey Faggins, who starts at cornerback with Robinson, gets picked on because of Robinson's skill and reputation. Still, Hoke defends his other cornerback starter, who's been a media and fan target.

"I tell him it's out there and you've got to ignore it," Hoke said. "You've got to be a professional in what you do. I believe he does that. Everybody who's talked to him knows he's going to be a very professional person in the way he handles the situation."

The Texans defense has faced two top NFL receivers in Carolina's Steve Smith and Marvin Harrison of the Colts.

"When you look at what's going on the field, he's had two plays where he tipped the ball and made the play and it happened to go to Steve Smith," Hoke said.

"In the Indy game, Marvin Harrison had five catches for 60 yards and no touchdowns. They are both Pro Bowl guys, so they can say what they want. It's who they were going against and the situations the faced, that's what you have to do as a coach. We still need to keep pushing to get turnovers."

Robinson calls Faggins Crazy Legs.

"He can get his legs in the most awkward positions and still come out of it and make a great play," Robinson said. "He has the ability to mirror any wide receiver. Petey is one of those guys you can't watch on film because only he can do some of the things he can do."

Fletcher was a free agent looking for a home. He might have chosen other places, but he liked the looks of Houston.

"Why would I choose Houston? I saw the growth," Fletcher said. "I saw bringing in a Matt Schaub, a guy who I was familiar with, Ahman Green, a tremendous back in this league.

"They already had Andre Johnson, one of the best receivers. Moving over to the defense, a guy who was rookie of the year, DeMeco (Ryans), having the very first pick in Mario (Williams). I just felt for me to come in here and add to that would be a beautiful thing."

Faggins, too, sees bright days ahead for the Texans.

"We're trying to get out there and win games, have a winning season, make the playoffs, something to feel good about when the season's over," Faggins said. "This year, I feel we're playing more as a team, jumping on guys' backs to let them know they made a great play.

Yeah, and there's even a bit of a swagger developing.

"I think we do have a swagger," Faggins said. "I don't feel it's come all the way out. We haven't made everyone aware that we do have a swagger and once that comes out it's going to be something to watch."

Faggins also likes coach Gary Kubiak's aggressive approach.

"When Kub came in it was like totally different coaches," he said. "It's a whole other kind of atmosphere. It's more aggressive. This has got to go on (snapping fingers) It's got to go on. We've got to win. He gets on a lot of starters and everyone.

"I look at it like he really wants to win so I've got to go out there and make plays for the team."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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