The Houston Texans backfield has a feature back; his name is Carlos Hyde. As for Duke Johnson — whom they essentially traded a third-round pick for — he’s seen more time as a complementary, sideline-to-sideline and pass-catching back for Houston. While that’s the role expected for him, he hasn’t been involved as much as he hoped.

Through two weeks of football, Johnson has received 19 touches for 121 yards. That needs to change for the sake of the Texans, especially heading into their Week 3 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, in California.

The Chargers are susceptible to allowing big games from rushing attacks. While Houston will attack that with between-the-tackle runs with Hyde, it also must attempt to dice up the Chargers’ defense over the air to Johnson.

Getting Johnson in open space against a shaky run-defending front-seven is ideal, but so is helping quarterback Deshaun Watson. That becomes truer considering he’ll face Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Jerry Tillery Week 3 and how good the back is as a receiver.

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Johnson is an elite pass-catching back. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranks second in the NFL since 2015 in broken tackles per reception (0.34). He’s also the fifth-highest graded receiving back (90.9), seventh in yards per route run (1.73), and fourth in rate of converted first downs/touchdowns (44%).

Yet, he’s only seen six targets go his way, five of which in Week 1. Why? Perhaps it was due to Jacksonville’s defense that allowed Hyde to run up the gut for a gain practically whenever he wanted. Nonetheless, the Texans must buy into what Johnson can do as a catcher.

Johnson can act as Watson’s “hot” option out of the backfield, which essentially means he runs a quickly-run route out of the backfield or slot to beat a blitz. Development in doing so is paramount to his success, and equally essential in enabling the Texans to lower their sacks allowed number. Defenses constantly blitz Watson; that would become less of a trend if he builds a rapport with Johnson to the point that he hits him out of the backfield to avoid pressure.

In all, Hyde should be the starting lead back. Through two weeks he’s in the top five in the NFL in both rushing yards (173) and yards per carry average (5.8). Hyde develops the run game, and in turn, play-action. Johnson needs to be there to improve the quick-hitting passing game and serve as Watson’s sidekick out of the backfield, similar to James White’s use in New England.