Health of Andre Johnson and Duane Brown Key for Houston Texans Offense

By Cooper Welch
Duane Brown
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There is finally some good news on the medical front for the Houston TexansTheir starting left tackle is finally back after missing the previous two games — the only two games he has ever missed in six-year career.

The Texans’ offense hasn’t struggled much with Duane Brown out, but things certainly could have gone better. An examination of the splits show that when Arian Foster is rushing to the left, he has the lowest average yards per carry.

When running towards the left sideline, he’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry. He’s at just 3.0 YPC to the left, 4.6 up the gut, 3.6 towards the right side of the field, and an astounding 6.6  to the right sideline. This means that the run-blocking is the weakest on the left side of the field. With Brown returning, expect those numbers to go back up.

Sacks have also slid up with Brown’s absence. Matt Schaub was sacked just two times each in the season’s first two games against the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titansbut in the two games that Brown missed, the Baltimore Ravens got four sacks on Schaub and the Seattle Seahawks got three.

Sure, the defensive lines of the ‘Hawks and Ravens are superior to the lines for the Titans and Bolts, but even so, seven sacks in two games is not a good number.

Thankfully, Brown was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, according to CSN Houston. Brown had turf toe, but now head coach Gary Kubiak is saying that he’ll be back against the San Francisco 49ers.

Andre Johnson was a limited participant in today’s practice, as was Texans fullback Greg Jones (the only one on the roster) and linebacker Brian Cushing. Linebackers Tim Dobbins and Darryl Sharpton missed practice completely.

It’s a little bit harder to isolate stats from when Johnson wasn’t in the game, but I can tell you this. The guy leads the team in yards, but also has no touchdown catches. He leads the NFL in receptions this season, and has the most yards without a touchdown catch in league.

Johnson is currently averaging 10.8 yards per reception and about 90 yards per game. DeAndre Hopkins has played well in the limited time he’s subbed for Johnson as the lead receiver, but it’s just not the same as having Johnson in the game. He’s one of maybe three receivers that I’d put in a one-on-one battle with Richard Sherman and expect him to win (Calvin Johnson is the other).

And he did just that last week, catching nine bombs for 110 yards.

I expect Johnson to play in this game, as the shin problem was reportedly no longer an issue last week and he proceeded to demolish the Seahawks’ secondary. Jones is also expected to play, as Kubiak said he expects him to play when questioned on what the Texans would do without a fullback. Cushing hasn’t passed the concussion protocol yet, but he’s close if he was participating in practice.

If Johnson and Brown play in this game, this should be a win for Houston. The Niners have really struggled against good defenses, especially quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Keep checking Rant Sports for more injury information heading in to Sunday’s game.

Cooper Welch is a Houston Texans writer for Follow him on Twitter @cooperwelch1991, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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