Fred Bennett (Getty Images)
Texans cornerback Fred Bennett is coming off a dismal 2008 season, and is trying to bounce back in 2009. Bennett went from a potential “outside looking in” type of player with Dunta Robinson and Jacques Reeves slotted as the starting corners, to a team leader in a matter of just a week.
Robinson is apparently dug in with his contract holdout and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be back for any part of the regular season, much less training camp.
“I don't really get caught up in his situation,” Bennett said of teammate Dunta Robinson. “I guess he'll be here when he's ready to be here."
With one man light in the secondary, the Texans went down two players as Jacques Reeves suffered a broken bone in his foot that will cost him at least 6-8 weeks. The injury to Reeves certainly makes Robinson’s absence hurt that much worse.
“The sooner, the better but whenever he gets here we'll welcome him with open arms,” Bennett told reporters. “Like I said, I guess that's the business side of it, that's his situation. I'm in camp. I'm out here practicing with my teammates trying to get better."
With both Robinson and Reeves out of action for their specific reasons, Fred Bennett immediately becomes the most experienced member of the Houston secondary in just his third season. Bennett is not only competing with rookies Glover Quinn and Brice McCain for a roster spot, but he’s taken on a leadership role.
“I'll pull them aside and let them know, ‘Hey, you did this in your technique' or ‘Get better at this,' Bennett said of the rookie defensive backs. “The thing I like about them is they listen, they want to get better. For them to be coming to me, and taking it in from me I'm like, ‘Wow, I really am the leader back here.' So it's fun."
The Texans speedy rookies have been influencing Bennett as well.
"Yeah, they keep me going,” Fred told reporters. “Little do they know, they keep me going a little bit. I see them run around like that, I want to do the same. It's all fun."
Bennett credits Dunta Robinson for helping to make him the pro and the leader he currently is, but is confident in his own and his teammates abilities, even if Robinson is not part of the team.
“I think I'm ready for that challenge, you know what I'm saying,” Bennett replied when asked what it was like lining up without Dunta Robinson. “I had him two years and I think he taught me enough and I think I've grown, I think I've grown up and I've become more mature so I'm ready for the challenge."
With the current situation at defensive back for the Texans, Fred Bennett must not only lead in the defensive huddle, but more importantly on the football field. It’s time for him to take his game to the next level or Houston may not be able to take the next step toward being a playoff contender.