AFC South: Fred Benett
Their top cornerback is upset over being designated as the team's franchise player, and the Texans hold out hope they'll be able to negotiate a long term deal with him.
If they don't, he'll wind up playing -- no one walks away from franchise money -- $9.975 million at corner this year. But he could try to negotiate an agreement to sign the tender that would make it so Houston couldn't use the tag on him a second time if he meets certain incentives. That's what Albert Haynesworth did last year with Tennessee.
Still, the Texans work at cornerback in the draft won't be Robinson-related, GM Rick Smith said at the team's pre-draft press conference Wednesday.
"Not to leverage the Dunta Robinson situation," he said. "I think that you can always improve your defense with corners. I think you've got to take corners all the time. You look at the two drafts that I've run so far, and I'm going to always take corners because I don't think you can have enough guys that can cover and run and hit and do all those things that we ask them to do. So yes, if there's a corner available, we'll certainly try to add one."
Later Smith was asked about big corners, and talked about how there just aren't a lot of them with all the characteristics scouts would like at the position in this crop.
"You'd love to have the 6-0, 200-pound guy who runs 4.3, has got long arms and can drop and change his [direction] do all of those things that we look for him to do," Smith said. "That's kind of tough. In this draft, there are not a lot of those kind of guys. It's a lot of the 5-9, 5-10 corners who run pretty well. But that's the ideal. And again, we always talk about it, you start with position parameters. You start with the ideal guy.
"You start with what (former Texan) N.D. Kalu (seated in the audience as a Houston Chronicle correspondent) looks like when you look for a defensive end, and then you work down from that. So it'd be great to do that. In the last couple of drafts, we've been fortunate. Fred Bennett is a big corner and he can run. Antwaun Molden's a big kid. He's 6-0, 202 pounds, and he runs 4.4, he can run. So we've been fortunate to get those kind of guys. You don't find that luxury all the time, but that's what you look for because of the size of the receivers."
The Houston Texans are big on rotating, and while it's all the rage in the league at running back, I'm pretty sure it acknowledges weakness when you do it at cornerback or defensive tackle or, now, at left tackle.
There have been times this season when the Texans have rolled Fred Bennett, Demarcus Faggins and Jacques Reeves through their two primary cornerback spots. They are trying to get more out of interior defensive lineman Amobi Okoye by spelling his every third series with DelJuan Robinson.
The Texans say they feel like all the guys they are putting on the field qualify as starters, but you know the popular line of thinking: If you're playing more than one it's because you don't have one.
Here's Gary Kubiak with Houston reporters on the Brown-Salaam rotation going forward:
"Well, I foresee us doing the same thing we did [Sunday]. As I told you, we are really monitoring Duane's reps, just watching his reps because he's playing 40, 45 plays of just big-time football and about 15 or 20 that we have to clean up. So what we decided to do was get Ephraim in that rotation, it was every third series. Ephraim needs the work too and I think it helped Duane. Duane played extremely well in the [Detroit] game and Ephraim, I thought, brought something to the group also. It was encouraging. I think we'll continue to do the same thing."
The problem with that rationale, I think, is the assumption that the 15 to 20 plays the team wants cleaned up are the same 15 to 20 plays Brown yields to Salaam.
If he's not conditioned well enough at this stage -- and he should be since it seven weeks into the season -- that's one thing, and this plan might be understandable as a stop gap. Beyond that, I'm not sure what kind of message it sends through the locker room, except that yet another top guy isn't good enough to do the job fulltime.