HOUSTON (AP) -The Texans expect Dunta Robinson to return by midseason. The cornerback doesn't plan on waiting that long.
Robinson badly injured his right knee and hamstring in a pileup while trying to make a tackle last November. He had surgeries to repair both injuries, and doctors told him he'd need a year to get back on the field.
A little over nine months later, Robinson is confident he'll be ready before then.
``It definitely wouldn't be out of the question,'' he said of an earlier return. ``I feel I'm ready right now, but in reality I'm not ready. So I've just got to keep working. To even be sitting here talking about being ready is a good situation.''
Robinson is on the physically unable to perform list. He can be taken off before the regular season begins, but if he isn't he'll have to wait until after the sixth game. The Texans have one game after that before their bye Oct. 26. Coach Gary Kubiak expects Robinson to make his 2008 debut the following week at Minnesota.
``Our plan all along is that we're expecting him back at midseason,'' Kubiak said. ``Our football team is looking very forward to that. He's been doing a great job with his rehab. He's come a long, long way.''
While the Texans go through their drills in two-a-days, Robinson stands alone on an adjacent field working on exercises for his rehabilitation. He's able to make cuts, backpedal and move side to side. His only remaining deficiency is in his range of motion, which is coming along more slowly.
Robinson said the pain has subsided and he is only uncomfortable when his doctors push him to do activities he hasn't done in a while.
He's eager to return to his team, but knows the danger of coming back before he's healthy.
``I've come a long way in this thing so I don't want to rush back,'' he said. ``I've worked way too hard to come out here and get injured again.''
Robinson started each game his first three seasons and developed into Houston's most consistent cornerback. He was in the midst of another strong season and had 34 tackles and two interceptions before his injury.
The 26-year-old believes his positive attitude has helped in his recovery, noting that some players with milder injuries spent ``more time complaining than working'' during the offseason. Though he's upbeat, it doesn't make missing training camp for the first time any easier.
``Every year since I was seven years old I've been out on the football field,'' he said. ``So to be sitting on the sideline watching, it's tough, but I know what I got to get done to get back on the field and that's what I let drive me.''
Until Robinson's return, the Texans will rely on former Cowboys defensive back Jacques Reeves and Robinson's protege, second-year player Fred Bennett. Houston could also get some help from rookie third-round pick Antwaun Molden, who has been impressing teammates and coaches early in camp.
``I like him,'' Robinson said. ``I think he's going be a good player for us. I think he has the potential to be a great player in this league. He has that work ethic, he practices hard and he's willing to learn.''

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