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Texans cornerback Robinson playing nothing like a rookie

HOUSTON (AP) _ Gary Walker had a point to make, so he stuck his head into the crowd of reporters surrounding rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson and loudly interrupted the chatter.

``Send that man to the Pro Bowl,'' Walker said, not the least bit playfully.

Robinson grinned, then seized upon the chance to bolster his fledgling campaign for inclusion in the NFL's all-star game.

``Dunta Robinson needs to be in the Pro Bowl. I mean, what else can I do?'' Robinson said Sunday after coming up with a handful of big plays in the Houston Texans' 24-5 win over Chicago.

``Everybody out there vote for Dunta Robinson, one of the corners to go to the Pro Bowl.''

Robinson has indeed put together a convincing case for a trip to Hawaii in February, playing nothing like a rookie over the second half of the season. No. 23 has been all over the field for the Texans, living up to his billing as the 10th overall pick the second cornerback taken behind Atlanta's DeAngelo Hall at eighth in the NFL draft.

He's been unbelievable,'' linebacker Kailee Wong said.I'm blown away by this rookie.''

Robinson has been groomed for this kind of success since he was drafted by the Texans.

He was inserted into the starting lineup from the very start, and was immediately paired with three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Aaron Glenn. He learned the ins and outs of playing the position from Glenn, proving to be among the team's best students.

In between practices during training camp, Robinson could often be found lugging around a backpack with a 4-inch thick playbook, a weekly game plan and hundreds of pages of notes he took during meetings.

Robinson still had the typical rookie struggles early, including a slip and fall that resulted in a touchdown pass to a wide-open receiver in Houston's season-opening loss to San Diego.

Slowly but surely, however, Robinson emerged as one of the Texans' best defensive players.

I think of the strides Dunta has made over the course of the season,'' Texans coach Dom Capers said.Now he does what really good players do _ he impacts the game.''

Over the past six games, Robinson leads NFL cornerbacks in tackles (41), solo tackles (38) and sacks (three). He ranks third in the NFL with six interceptions _ tops among rookies.

Showing a toughness that belies his 5-foot-10, 178-pound frame, Robinson's two jarring sacks of Peyton Manning in Houston's 23-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 12 were the talk of the Texans' locker room.

And on a day when the temperature at kickoff was 9 and the wind chill 10-below, Bears quarterback Chad Hutchinson and the NFL's worst offense found Robinson every bit as unforgiving as the Chicago cold.

Robinson had an interception and a helmet-cracking sack of Hutchinson that forced a fumble and was returned 60 yards by Charlie Anderson for Houston's final touchdown. He also made seven tackles, helping the Texans win for only the second time in seven games.

``With the offense not moving the ball well, we just needed to make plays defensively,'' Robinson said.

Not surprisingly, Robinson took that task upon himself.

``I'd like to see if there's another defensive player that has the same production as what he's had,'' Capers said.

He then cracked a smile, remembering the Texans are in the midst of the campaign season.

``He'd get my vote,'' Capers said.

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