Banks reminds NFL he's still around

Updated: November 6, 2003, 8:00 PM ET
ESPN

HOUSTON -- Tony Banks hopes people were paying attention.

Banks, who spent last season on the sideline as rookie David Carr took every snap, started Sunday and threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass in a 14-10 upset of NFC South-leading Carolina.

The eighth-year player out of Michigan State has started 76 NFL games and believes he can return to that role full-time, something he hopes his turnover-free performance against a tough Panthers defense bears out.

"It's always nice if the opportunity arises, but I've had a lot better games than that on every team I've been on," Banks said.

Banks, 30, started 13 games as a rookie in 1996 with the St. Louis Rams and developed an early reputation as a fumbler. He fumbled 21 times that year and lost 11. He has had double-digit fumbles in four other seasons, including 10 with the Washington Redskins in 2001, when he started 10 games.

However, Banks notes, in his last five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Redskins and Texans he has thrown 37 touchdown passes compared to 27 interceptions.

"The last few years, my record is as good as anybody, my numbers are as good as anybody," Banks said.

Why can't he shake his reputation with the media as a turnover machine?

"If I had that answer I'd send an e-mail to all of them and let them know so they'd stop it," he said. "Any time you're a talented guy who hasn't been to the Pro Bowl or to the Super Bowl, you're going to get ridiculed for one thing or another."

Banks is signed through 2004, meaning the Texans must cut or trade him after this season if he wants to pursue a starting job elsewhere. He said anything is possible in a league without guaranteed contracts.

"My agent has a good relationship with (Texans general manager) Charley Casserly, so I don't know. Anything can happen," Banks said. "It's not like baseball or basketball. That (multiyear) deal can turn into a one-year deal really fast."

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MACK DADDY:@ Texans kicker Kris Brown made good on a wager, with a little editing.

Brown, a former Nebraska Cornhusker, bet assistant trainer Jon Ishop he would wear burnt orange if Texas won Saturday. Ishop's alma mater came through with a 31-7 blowout, and he supplied Brown with a long-sleeved shirt Wednesday.

Ishop added a personal touch, though. Printed on the back was the phrase, "Mack Brown is my daddy." It's both a play off the kicker's last name and a reference to the Longhorns' 4-0 record against the Cornhuskers under the coach.

"I'm a gracious loser," said Kris Brown. "We got beaten Saturday. Texas played a great game and our guys, for whatever reason, didn't show up and didn't play very well."

Brown drew the line at the Mack Brown reference, though.

"He thought I was not going to notice it," he said. "I noticed it, so I put a little piece of paper on what he had down there."

The piece of paper covering "Mack Brown" said "Bob Stoops," a reference to the Oklahoma coach who has won four straight against Texas.

"I had to remind him of a certain team in the Big 12 that basically owns Texas," Brown said.

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SHEAR-FIRE WIN:@ David Carr's father made a pronouncement at dinnertime Tuesday.

"My dad says he's not going to cut his hair until we win two games in a row," Carr said.

It's no gimme bet for Roger Carr. The Texans have yet to post back-to-back victories in their 24-game history, though they're coming off a 14-10 upset of Carolina and headed to Cincinnati.

Carr, whose parents moved from Southern California after Houston drafted him in 2002, is expected to play Sunday after missing last week's game with a right ankle sprain. He hopes to force a barber's appointment.

"Hopefully he gets a haircut Monday, or my mom's going to start hating it a little bit," Carr said.

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ALIVE AND KICKING:@ ESPN filmed a comedy feature at the Texans' practice facility after Houston chose to go for a make-or-break 1-yard touchdown Sept. 28 against Jacksonville instead of kicking the tying field goal.

In joke interviews, players and coaches pretended that buttoned-down coach Dom Capers had thrown caution to the wind after the 24-20 victory. Among his decisions, wink-wink, were to cut punter Chad Stanley and kicker Kris Brown because they weren't needed anymore.

That has almost been true for Brown. He nailed a 29-yarder in the next game at Tennessee but hasn't attempted a field goal in the past three games, although he has hit seven extra points to maintain his 55-game scoring streak.

"Any time we get into field goal range we're scoring touchdowns, and if that's the case we'll take that every time," Brown said. "Or we're getting to where we're not into range to kick field goals because we're stalling out."

Brown is OK with the feast-of-famine streak as long as the offense keeps finding the end zone.

"I am still going in there to kick extra points, and they're often overlooked," Brown said. "There's never a guaranteed extra point, so in that perspective an extra point is like a field goal mentally and physically.

"I'll always take an extra point over kicking field goals."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index