The Houston Texans will be looking to extend their winning streak to three games as they travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts. In a game with plenty of stars taking the field, Duke Johnson will be the biggest X-Factor for the Texans against Indianapolis.
Nearly a month before the regular season began, the Texans acquired Johnson via trade from the Cleveland Browns. The original plan was for the former Browns running back to become the starter in the backfield alongside Deshaun Watson.
Instead, Houston signed Carlos Hyde to become the team’s No. 1 option at running back. Through the first six games of the season, Hyde has been given the bulk of the carries while Johnson has worked as a change-of-pace back.
Furthermore, Hyde has carried it 99 times for 426 yards and three scores. Along with his rushing numbers, Hyde has also been a minimal contributor in the passing game with just six receptions for 22 yards.
At the same time, Johnson has done a phenomenal job relieving Hyde at times with his playmaking ability. Despite seeing fewer rushing attempts, Johnson has been more effective than Hyde; averaging 6.5 yards per attempt.
But what makes Johnson so dangerous in an offense is his ability to catch the football. During his four-year tenure in Cleveland, the Miami alumn showcased that he could become a reliable option as a receiving back.
As a matter of fact, over the four years he was with the Browns, he averaged nearly 60 receptions, 542 yards, and two touchdowns per season. Now, he’s brought that same skill set to the Texans in 2019.
In his first six games with the team, Johnson has caught 11 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. This week, Houston will need Johnson to produce for them to create some mismatches for the Colts defense.
The Colts appear to be getting Darius Leonard back in their defense after missing the past four weeks. Without a doubt, the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year will make a difference in this game.
It’s up to the Texans to put Leonard in uncomfortable situations; which include covering Johnson out of the backfield. Why not test a linebacker who has missed nearly a month of football?
While Hyde continues to grind the tough yards, Johnson can come in and keep the defense guessing. Along with that, having both running backs involved helps Watson under center.
After being sacked 18 times in the first four weeks, the talented quarterback has been sacked zero times in the past two games. It goes without saying that the running back duo of Hyde and Johnson have helped contribute to that.
The game between the Texans and Colts this Sunday can change the outlook of the AFC South. In light of that, Johnson is poised to be a vital piece to the offense in Week 7.