The Texans expected growing pains with rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson. Robinson struggled to avoid the big pass play in the preseason and had a disappointing pro debut in the season-opening loss to the Chargers. Coach Dom Capers decided to bench Robinson to begin the fourth quarter after he said the first-round selection appeared "rattled." Robinson gave up a 36-yard touchdown when he slipped on the turf in coverage and was called for a 40-yard pass interference penalty that led to a field goal. He was replaced by third-year pro Demarcus Faggins. It's way too early to begin talking about a lineup shakeup, but Faggins got an increase load of repetitions with the first-team defense this week and is on stand-by if Robinson falters again. Faggins usually moves to the right corner spot while Robinson switches to the nickel spot when the Texans go to five defensive backs.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
-- The right side of the Texans' offensive line is experienced with G Zach Wiegert and T Todd Wade, while the left side of G Chester Pitts and T Seth Wand is inexperienced. Even so, both of the Texans touchdowns in the season-opening loss to San Diego were to the left side.
-- A lack of a pass rush is still missing for the Texans and that could be a problem this weekend against Detroit. The Lions are among the teams that have allowed the fewest sacks the past two seasons. During that span, QB Joey Harrington has only been sacked 17 times.
-- Fourth-round selection Glenn Earl worked some at strong safety this week, a clear indication the team was not pleased with the performance of starter Eric Brown in the season opener. Earl, who spent most of training camp strengthening his surgically repaired knee, is big, fast and physical. He figures to be in the team's future plans in the secondary. Brown, known more as a run stopper, gave up several big passing plays to TE Antonio Gates.
-- WR Derrick Armstrong has been impressive and could challenge WR Jabar Gaffney for playing time in three-receiver sets.
-- Rookie CB Dunta Robinson will likely be assigned to cover Lions rookie WR Roy Williams on Sunday. Williams figures to be QB Joey Harrington's go-to guy in the passing game after WR Charles Rogers was lost for the season with a broken collarbone. "At least he's a rookie, too," Robinson joked.
For the Texans to win, three things have to occur: 1.) Convert touchdowns in the red zone; 2.) Avoid careless turnovers; 3.) Limit the big plays on defense. None of that occurred last week and the result was a 27-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Priority No. 1 is to avoid the costly turnovers like the two interceptions by David Carr and two fumbles by Domanick Davis that were backbreakers vs. San Diego. Aside from a disappointing showing in the Chargers game, this may be the best chance for the Texans to open up their offense and attempt to spread the field with Andre Johnson and Corey Bradford. The loss of cornerback Dre Bly hurts the Lions in the secondary.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Texans QB David Carr vs. Lions QB Joey Harrington: Let the comparisons begin. Carr was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft. Harrington was taken No. 3. Carr is 7-20 as a starter. Harrington is 9-20. Carr has thrown for 18 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Harrington has 30 TDs and 39 INTs. Both players are expected to be franchise-type quarterbacks for years to come. The early nod goes to Carr, who has far more weapons than Harrington with Andre Johnson at receiver and Domanick Davis in the backfield.
--Texans secondary vs. Lions WRs Roy Williams, Tai Streets and Az-Zahir Hakim: The Texans failed to make the necessary adjustments in coverage and were repeatedly burned by Drew Brees and the Chargers. Former Pro Bowler Aaron Glenn lived up to his reputation as a shutdown cornerback; the Chargers did not attempt a pass to his side of the field. Expect rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson to get matched one-on-one against Williams, the Lions' first-round selection in this year's draft. Williams undoubtedly will get more opportunities than he would have if Charles Rogers had stayed healthy. But he won't have the luxury of as much single coverage from defensive backs.
--Texans pass rush vs. Lions offensive line: The Texans say not to pay attention to the numbers. Sure, the sack totals continue to be low if nonexistent. But the Texans explain you don't have to rack up gaudy statistics to put pressure on the quarterback. The front three of Gary Walker, Robaire Smith and/or Seth Payne and Jerry DeLoach is arguably one of the strengths of the defensive unit. Rookie outside linebacker Jason Babin got close to sacking Drew Brees last week and made some nice open field tackles of LaDainian Tomlinson. The Texans would prefer to force Lions quarterback Joey Harrington out of the pocket. The Lions have two new guards in Damien Woody and David Loverne. Still, there's something to be said for a unit that has been among the league's stingiest in allowing sacks the past two seasons.
-- NT Seth Payne played about 30 snaps in the season opener against San Diego and said his surgically repaired left knee held up fine. The Texans are likely to stay with a rotation of Payne and Jerry DeLoach for the first few weeks of the season.
-- K Kris Brown underwent tests earlier this week after suffering a concussion in the season opener. Brown was "dazed" for several minutes after making a tackle to begin the second half. "There really is no memory of the game at all whatsoever," Brown said.
-- FB Moran Norris (left shoulder) was held out of practice early in the week and his status for Sunday's game is uncertain. If he can't play, Jarrod Baxter would make his second straight start. Baxter was the starter during the Texans inaugural season two years ago.
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