The Houston Texans appeared like a different team without five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson in their 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Quarterback Matt Schaub threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns, but he completed just 47.1 percent (24-of-51) of his passes, was sacked three times, and tossed two interceptions.
Coach Gary Kubiak told Baltimore media during a conference call Wednesday that Johnson, who underwent surgery on his hamstring last week, is out for Sunday’s contest against the Ravens, but as far as the defense is concerned, the Texans still pose a significant challenge through the air.
Tight ends Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen combined for 12 catches for 201 yards and one touchdown, and starting wide receiver Kevin Walter hauled in five receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown against Oakland.
“It doesn’t help us at all,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said of Johnson’s potential absence. “It might make it easier if they did play Andre because we would know who to stop. Those guys [Walter and Jacoby Jones] are great receivers. You saw them [on Sunday]. They made good catches, great catches, the tight ends made great catches. So they’re not a slouch. Andre was just their leader. So we’ve just got to go in and play ball.”
Webb’s sentiments were echoed by coach John Harbaugh. But he also conceded that the defense won’t have to tilt its coverage to one player as it would have with Johnson.
“They’ve still got Jacoby Jones, who can go deep – you have got to account for that,” Harbaugh said. “They still have Kevin Walter. They’ve got two tight ends that are incredible, they’ve got a great running back, and I think they’ve got the offensive line that’s playing the best in football right now. And [they have] a veteran quarterback, which always causes any defense problems because he’s going to understand where to go with the ball. So they still pose you tons of problems, but the fact that he’s not out there – I mean let’s not kid ourselves – that’s huge.”
Jones started for Johnson, and Jones caught just one pass for nine yards against the Raiders despite being targeted by Schaub 11 times.
“He’s got to step up big,” Kubiak said Monday of Jones. “… He’s just part of the group and the group wasn’t good enough as a whole, but he’s going to have to step up and make some big plays for us to continue forward. With the ball movement we had [Sunday], there should’ve been some more points on the board. There wasn’t.”