In the fallout of Fred Bennett’s rookie season, it was expected by many that he may be the savior at cornerback that the Texans have been longing for. Bennett, a 4th round pick by the Texans in 2007, joined a very dismal defensive backfield consisting of not much outside cornerback Dunta Robinson. With that being said, Bennett saw the field a good amount very early. In his rookie season, he played in 14 games, starting 8, with his first start coming in week 9 at Oakland. He started the remainder of the 2007 season, getting 3 interceptions, 14 passes defended, and 54 total tackles. Bennett appeared to be a solid option at cornerback for the future, helping to replace the egregious DeMarcus “Petty” Faggins.
But beginning in week 1 of the 2008 season, it became quickly apparent that Bennett had a long way to go to be a consistent full time starting cornerback in the NFL. Playing against the Steelers in the regular season opener, Bennett was frequently burned in man coverage. Not only was he falling behind in coverage, but he was regularly far enough behind that he wouldn’t even be in position to make the tackle on the receiver. Though, he didn’t have an overly terrible season. Bennett played in every game that year, starting 6, with 35 total tackles, 2 interceptions, but only 6 passes defended.
In his third season, Bennett played a diminishing role on defense. After starting the first 3 games of the season, Bennett was quickly plucked from the starting lineup and placed on the bench for the remainder of the season, seeing very limited action. 2009 was a huge disappointment for him, totaling only 15 tackles and 1 pass defended in 10 games last season. Two rookie cornerbacks, Glover Quin and Brice McCain, quickly surpassed him on the depth chart. It almost makes you wonder how much the Texans may have considered waiving Bennett before the end of the season if the situation at cornerback wasn’t so sensitive.
Now heading into Training Camp, Bennett will need to show significant improvements in his coverage skills if he wants any chance at making the final roster. This will be his fourth season with the team, and being at the back end of 26, this will probably be the last chance he’ll have to show that he can be a solid long term option at cornerback. To make the final roster, he’ll have to beat out cornerbacks such as Antwaun Molden, Brice McCain, and rookie Sherrick McManis. Even if he held his current form, Bennett is long gone with the current group coming in. So he has a lot of improving to do if he wants to continue playing in Houston.