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Houston's Molden back from injury

HOUSTON - HOUSTON (AP) — Houston cornerback Antwaun Molden is ready to get back into a game after sitting out since December recovering from a broken ankle.

It's a good thing, too. With Jacques Reeves out with a broken leg and Dunta Robinson still holding out, the Texans need all the help they can get at the position.

Molden, who missed the first part of training camp finishing his recovery, is expected to play his first game since Dec. 14 when Houston hosts the Vikings on Monday night.

The Texans have been impressed with the play of rookies Brice McCain and Glover Quin, but coach Gary Kubiak likes the year of experience Molden adds to the group.

Third-year player Fred Bennett is starting at right cornerback and Reeves is scheduled to start opposite him, but he probably won't be healthy until a week or two into the regular season. With the timing of Robinson's return uncertain, the Texans need their young cornerbacks to step in play early.

"To ask these young kids to go out there and lock up some of these NFL players right away, that's a tall task," Kubiak said. "But that's where our team is at right now, so we've got to be able to get that done."

A third-round draft pick in 2008, Molden appeared in 14 games last season and was second on the team with 19 special teams tackles.

Kubiak stressed what a contribution from Molden could mean to his team.

"It could be huge," Kubiak said. "It's not just that he's healthy, but he's a really fine player. He was playing well for us before he got hurt. So (it's a) great opportunity for him to crack a lineup, in a lot of ways. We've got young guys out there so it will be interesting to see how far he comes."

The Texans are looking forward to seeing Molden in a game, but Kubiak said that he won't play as much as the three quarters most of his starters will play. He wants to bring him along a bit slower because it's his first game back.

Molden said he's healthy, and ready to get back after a nine-month layoff.

He knows the absence of Reeves and Robinson creates an opening for him to show his worth to Houston's defense.

"Anytime I step on the field it's an opportunity for me to get better and to help this team," he said. "I'm put in that position and that's what I'm looking forward to doing."

Molden has been helped by defensive backs coach David Gibbs, who is in his first year with the Texans after spending the last three years in the same position in Kansas City.

"Experience is a great teacher and I also have a good coach in David Gibbs and I'm excited to take what I've learned from him and put it on the field," Molden said.

The 24-year-old used the time recovering from his injury to study different Houston players and learn what works and doesn't work for his teammates to improve his game. He said he takes "pieces of everyone's game" to fine-tune what he's doing.

NOTES: Rookie first-round pick LB Brian Cushing participated in Houston's entire practice on Saturday for the first time since spraining his left knee more than two weeks ago, but Kubiak said he won't play on Monday. ... DT Travis Johnson, who hasn't played this preseason because of sports hernia surgery, could play against the Vikings. Kubiak said he'll decide if Johnson is ready to play just before Monday's game.


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