This post started as a slam piece of Faggins' play over the last few years. Reach out in any direction and and you can find an easy reason to slam him. Don't get me wrong, he deserves it, but there's something more there.
I talked with HoustonTexans.com writer Brooke Bentley about her piece on Demarcus Faggins. I asked how she could write such a positive piece on one of the major dysfunctions of the 2007 season. Her reply made me think:
I wanted to show that Petey is not ready to give up. There is a lot of competition at cornerback (we interviewed Antwaun Molden, Jacques Reeves and Fred Bennett about that during mini-camp). We wanted to show a player who started out at the bottom fighting for a spot and now is back where he started.
Demarcus Lamont Faggins has come full circle. After the jump, get to know a little more about "Petey."
Demarcus Faggins is one of those players that makes people in movies scream "Stay down", but gets back up and keeps fighting just to get knocked down again. I personally think this is the answer to the riddle of Kubiak's confidence in Faggins as a player.
Despite his record, this confidence isn't entirely misplaced. Faggins came to the NFL as something of a ballhawk and a defensive leader . He set records at Kansas State for interceptions and tackles in a game. He also set a record for the 2002 combine with the fastest 20 yd shuttle and 3 cone drill.
Faggins must be a practice god. Do you remember how long it took Darius Walker to get to the active roster, much less get on the field last year?
(on if RB Darius Walker might play) "Darius (Walker)? There’s a chance. He did a good job today. He’s had two good practices back to back, and hopefully he’ll step up tomorrow and have another good one. But he’s getting better."
Kubiak seems to value good, maybe even excellent, practice over almost anything. Kubes seems to want to see it himself on the practice field before he sees it on Sundays. I can only imagine that Faggins looks good in practice.
"The more you're around him the more comfortable you get because he gives you great effort, he competes every down (and) he doesn't want anybody to catch a pass on him," Capers said. "When you talk to these guys, you tell them this is a game of opportunity. Whether you're running the service team, or running the other team's offense or defense. He earned this the old-fashioned way."
Yeah, I know, it's a Capers quote, but I think it still holds true about Faggins' practice habits.
So what happens on Sundays? Why do we get the Martian Manhunter in practice and Marvin the Martian on the field? I think it has to do with Petey's mental game, and the coaching staff seems to agree:
"It was a hard season on him," defensive back coach Jon Hoke said. "It was hard mentally for him. He lost some confidence. At his position, when you lose confidence, it’s hard to get it back. You’ve got to have some good things happen to you, and it just didn’t seem like good things were happening to him."
I think it's more than a hard season. It's a given that it's hard to cover the elite receivers in the NFL. I don't think Faggins has the chutzpah to take his physical gifts and be a shutdown corner.
So what do we have at cornerback with Faggins? If you expect him to see the field as a starter, you have Peyton Manning's favorite target. If you put him at nickel, or even better, at dime, you have a veteran with playmaking ability.
"Right now, we’ve got Fred and Jacques playing the corners," Hoke said. "He (Faggins) backing is up both sides. In Nickel, he does come in because we move Fred inside. But it’s early. There are a lot of things that can happen. Right now, he’s a role player and he understands that."
I think Faggins' skills fall somewhere between CB2 and CB3 on the depth chart. Since a healthy Dunta Robinson, Fred Bennett, Antwaun Molden and Jacques Reeves are ahead of him, Faggins will hopefully only see the field as a dime back this season. If the Texans are able to keep him in that role, they may have a small-time playmaker.
Remember we've all cheered him before.
Love him or hate him, let's hope he gives us reason to cheer again.