Houston Texans: Johnathan Joseph

Camp preview: Houston Texans

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation's Tania Ganguli examines the three biggest issues facing the Houston Texans heading into training camp.

Johnson's absence: Texans receiver Andre Johnson already has lost his $1 million roster bonus because of his absences this offseason, and he reportedly has asked for a trade. It could get worse. The Texans can fine him up to $30,000 for each day of training camp he misses. Johnson has made a lot of money during his time with the Texans; that investment is part of why they aren't interested in letting him go right now, either by trading or releasing him. They also would take a pretty significant hit to their salary cap. Moving Johnson now would stick the Texans with $12 million in dead money. But Johnson's perspective is sympathetic. He has played on a lot of bad teams and talked frequently before last season about the difficulty of doing so. It shocked him that the Texans went 2-14 during the 2013 season, and his outlook on the 2014 season isn't rosy. Imagine this scenario from Johnson's point of view: He spends 2014 toiling through a rebuilding year at age 33, then gets released or traded next year as his salary rises and cap hit falls. He'd much prefer spending 2014 with a contender.

Return of the wounded: Three important players had surgery during or after the 2013 season, and their progress will be something to follow. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph had foot surgery, inside linebacker Brian Cushing had knee surgery and running back Arian Foster had back surgery. It was the second season in a row that Joseph and Cushing had surgeries. Last offseason Joseph had two sports hernia surgeries, and last season Cushing had surgery on his other knee to replace a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Foster was back for organized team activities and the Texans' minicamps. Cushing and Joseph weren't fully practicing, so their health will be important to watch. And, of course, one very important rookie also had surgery in June. Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in May, had surgery to repair a sports hernia he might or might not have been dealing with during his final season at South Carolina. Clowney's progress will be key for the Texans, who weren't expecting him to need surgery upon his arrival. They need him to start at outside linebacker and help bolster their pass rush. The good news for Houston is the recovery time for sports hernia surgery -- about six weeks -- lines up perfectly with the start of training camp.

Fitzpatrick's learning and teaching: Texans coach Bill O'Brien announced Ryan Fitzpatrick as the team's starting quarterback on the first day of the team's mandatory minicamp. He said Fitzpatrick earned the position with his ability to pick up the Texans' offense and his steady improvement in it. Fitzpatrick's past includes spots of brilliant mobility, but there also are overextensions and too many turnovers. His responsibility this season will be twofold. First, he's to guide the Texans offense, protect the football and manage the game. Second, he's to help teach rookie Tom Savage the craft of an NFL quarterback. Savage spent his college career with three different programs, lacking the stability needed to really learn and get better. The good news for the Texans is that makes Savage a fairly blank canvas. He shouldn't have habits that make it difficult to learn a new system or be so set in his ways that the learning process gets stuck.

Offseason Blueprint: Texans

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
In 2011, with a Swiss cheese secondary, the Houston Texans stepped out in free agency and brought in two big veteran additions.

Cornerback Johnathan Joseph and safety Danieal Manning both played significant roles in helping the Texans turn from perennial underachievers into a playoff contenders.

But after a giant initial season, Joseph's had trouble staying healthy and Manning has dropped off. He was lost to a right knee injury in October 2013.

Manning could be a salary cap casualty, as cutting him as he heads into the final year of his deal would save $4.5 million.

Even with a healthy Joseph playing opposite Kareem Jackson, the Texans need to upgrade cornerback depth.

That leads ESPN.com’s KC Joyner to look at two outsiders as potential solutions in free agency as part of our offseason blueprint Insider for the Texans: Carolina safety Mike Mitchell and Seattle corner Walter Thurmond.

I could see Mitchell as a member of the Texans. But I would think Thurmond is going to find work as an every down corner and Joyner suggests he'd be an upgrade over nickelback Brice McCain.

What went wrong? Cornerbacks

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
We approach the end of the defensive half of our position-by-position series examining what went wrong with the Houston Texans.

This wasn't a team that lacked talent, but one that often became enveloped by an impending sense of doom when things went bad, especially late in the season.

Defensively, the Texans faced a strange dichotomy for a while. They weren't allowing many yards, but were allowing too many points. Part of it was the fact that their offense turned the ball over so regularly and they themselves couldn't create many turnovers.

Having already discussed safeties, running backs, inside linebackers, receivers, outside linebackers, tight ends, defensive linemen and offensive linemen, let's wrap up defense with cornerbacks today.

Key Players: Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Brice McCain, Brandon Harris

What went wrong: Week after week Jackson committed costly penalties he didn't understand. Each time came the same lament of defensive backs leaguewide: How do they expect us to play defense with these rules? Jackson vowed not to change his style. He finished the season having committed seven penalties for a league-high 174 yards during the regular season. Six of those penalties came in the first half of the season, and they hurt the Texans, who weren't always in agreement with the calls. In the Texans' final eight games, Jackson only committed one penalty, albeit a 35-yarder.

Per Pro Football Focus's player ratings, Joseph was the Texans' highest-rated cornerback. He ranked 24th among corners who played in at least 50 percent of their team's defensive snaps and allowed the fifth-lowest completion percentage. The lowest-rated corner among all players with the same participation filter was Texans cornerback Brice McCain. McCain, the Texans' nickel corner who often looked lost, was also the lowest-rated when you expanded the filter to include all players who played in at least 25 percent of the team's snaps.

Reason for hope? The future of this position will be interesting to watch. Jackson will enter a contract year if the Texans don't opt to extend his deal this offseason. Joseph's cap number is astronomical in 2014: $11.25 million. That's huge, but the Texans need him so I'd be surprised if he were a cap casualty. They need to upgrade from McCain in the slot.

A Houston Texans holiday cornucopia

December, 25, 2013
When he came to the podium on Tuesday afternoon, Houston Texans interim coach Wade Phillips said he wasn't sure if he was allowed to wish us all a Merry Christmas, but he planned to do it anyway.

He arrived after a short jog-through the Texans held on Tuesday so that the team could have Wednesday off. Being so close to a game, Phillips preferred to do that rather than push players' bodies.

For your reading pleasure as you do regular holiday things like argue with relatives and watch NBA games (just me?), I present 10 random things about the Texans.

1. The Texans signed running back Ray Graham, a rookie out of Pittsburgh who spent training camp in Houston, on Tuesday as well as fullback Toben Opurum, a rookie out of Kansas. This to help solve their running back woes.

2. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph and running back Deji Karim were placed on injured reserve, joining the pretty good team the Texans have stored on that list. Joseph becomes the team's fourth Pro Bowler on IR.

3. Andre Johnson's favorite Christmas present growing up was a Miami Dolphins/Dan Marino jersey/helmet/pants set he got when he was 6 or 7 years old. J.J. Watt's was a cocker spaniel puppy named Chewy.

4. Watt told Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press he might have plastic surgery to fix his nose, rather than continue to look like one of Dr. Frankenstein's creatures, which his mother hates.

5. With half a sack on Sunday, Watt would join Mario Williams as the second player in franchise history with back-to-back seasons with double-digit sacks.

6. Defensive end Antonio Smith gave the rest of his defensive linemen cowboy boots for Christmas. "I wanted to make sure they all knew how to cowboy up. I didn't want to be the only one." He was concerned that Terrell McClain wouldn't wear them because McClain has never worn boots.

7. Running back Ben Tate is famously doing acupuncture to help heal his broken ribs. Tate said he's actually been doing acupuncture for a long time to help with various kinds of pain.

8. Johnson wants to forget about this season as fast as possible -- after winning. He's not sure that's realistic, though, given that he still remembers his other 2-14 season.

9. T.J. Yates is not going to start this week. At this point, Phillips said, it wouldn't really work. Yates hasn't played in months, and chemistry was a problem even with throwing Matt Schaub back into the game.

10. Speaking of Schaub, he needs 8 passing yards to reach 23,000 with the Texans. He'll start again if Case Keenum can't go.

What Texans players play for now

December, 17, 2013
The Houston Texans can't make the 2013 NFL playoffs and they can't save their head coach's job. And after last week's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, it's less likely they can help their defensive coordinator move from interim head coach to regular head coach, despite his winning record as a head coach.

I asked several players Sunday evening: What do you play for now?

WR Andre Johnson, 11th season: "I'm just trying to win. Trying to end this streak. That's pretty much it. I only play the game for one reason and that's to win and hopefully one day win the Super Bowl. So other than that, I don't really set any personal goals or anything like that."

RB Ben Tate, 4th season: "I'm playing to get a W. I play because I love the game, I love doing this."

TE Ryan Griffin, 1st season: "Anytime you play, it's on film. So at this point we're playing for pride right now. You've got to put the right stuff on film. Everybody sees that, everybody in the NFL. It doesn't matter what your record is it is each play. So that's what we're playing for."

CB Johnathan Joseph, 8th season: "My pride. That's what I play for each and every week. My pride overrides everything else because I just want to go out there and play good, winning football from the beginning of the whistle to the end of the whistle. So I think it's about pride. Going out there and putting winning football on tape."

LG Wade Smith, 11th season: "I play for the fact that I love playing football. I want to win. I know if I play well, it's contributing to helping us get a win. If the offensive line plays well, then it's contributing to us getting a win. And we just go from there."

RT Derek Newton, 3rd season: "For my team. Myself. We're trying to get Ws each week."

OLB Brooks Reed, 3rd season: "Play for? Pride. Self respect."

ILB Darryl Sharpton, 4th season: "I play for my teammates. I play for my coaches. I play for Bryan Braman, Joe Mays, all the guys in the linebacker room. Reggie Herring, all my coaches. I mean, that's what you play for. It's your job. It's an unbelievable opportunity that people would kill for no matter what situation. I don't take it for granted. I've been through a lot of ups and downs and having this opportunity to play professional football in a great city like Houston, I'm going to take full advantage of my opportunity and give it my all."

Cancer has touched two Texans CBs

October, 15, 2013
Before players were introduced for Sunday's game, Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson brought his mother out of the tunnel, gave her a hug and then turned back around into the tunnel to await his own introduction.

Jackson's mother, Rossalyn, is a two-time breast-cancer survivor. She wore a sash that said "Survivor" on it and stood in line with the Texans cheerleaders as players ran through onto the field during introductions. She became part of Houston's contribution to the league's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Cancer has been a fixture in the lives of both of the Texans' starting cornerbacks. Not only did Jackson's mother survive cancer, his sister had leukemia. And Johnathan Joseph, who starts opposite Jackson, has felt cancer's impact in his own family. Joseph's father suffers from lung cancer and emphysema.

On Monday, the two players held a fundraising event through their foundations to benefit the American Lung Association and Sister's Network Inc., which describes itself as "a national African American breast cancer survivorship organization."

As part of the fundraiser they held a birthday party on a stage for a local girl named Kyssi Andrews, who turned five on Monday. She was bald and wore a tutu and an Arian Foster jersey. For about an hour after cutting her birthday cake, Joseph sat on the edge of the stage with his arm around the little girl.

It brought back memories for Jackson's mother.
HOUSTON -- What Texans coach Gary Kubiak says about injuries is usually a bit different than what appears on the injury report when the Texans have a light practice. That's because according to league policy, if a team does a walk-through, or what Kubiak called a jog-through, it must estimate how much that player would have participated in a full practice.

On Wednesday afternoon, he said Duane Brown (toe) and Brian Cushing (concussion) participated in practice, while Greg Jones, Johnathan Joseph, Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson were rested. Tim Dobbins (hip) and Brandon Brooks (toe) did not practice due to injury.

The official injury report released this evening listed J.J. Watt and Cushing among those who did not practice -- Watt for that Frankenstein gash on his nose that required six stitches during the game, and also because of a groin injury. Darryl Sharpton (foot/hip) and Wade Smith (knee) were also held out.

Kubiak couched his injury announcements during his press conference by saying Wednesday's practice was not very rigorous.

"We might have had 10 or 11 guys who wouldn't have participated had we done something different, so we needed the reps," Kubiak said. "We slowed it down a little bit to make sure we got the teaching. We're back to work."


Andre Johnson feels like he'll play

September, 26, 2013
HOUSTON -- Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson was limited in practice on Thursday, coach Gary Kubiak said, but he's feeling good about his chances.

"Right now, I feel like I'll play," Johnson said.

Johnson clarified that while he got kneed in the shin in Baltimore, he didn't have any bone damage. Rather, he suffered a deep bruise to the muscle around there. The injury occurred in the second quarter of the Texans' 30-9 loss. Johnson tried to return after halftime, but he was not effective enough to finish the game.

Limited participation is a step up from where Johnson was Wednesday, when he did not practice at all.

The Texans were also missing both starting cornerbacks in practice: Johnathan Joseph (foot) and Kareem Jackson (sick). Left tackle Duane Brown was limited and said after practice that he doesn't want to aggravate his turf-toe injury.

RTC: Pick-sixes can be game-changers

September, 26, 2013
Reading the coverage of the Texans...

The Seahawks have not returned any interceptions for touchdowns, but Texans quarterback Matt Schaub leads the league in pick-sixes thrown, writes Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle. Robertson also has an interesting paragraph about how some great quarterbacks have had a penchant for throwing interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

Schaub is a hot topic this week, as quarterbacks tend to be. CSNHouston.com's Dave Zangaro writes that Schaub and his coaches know he has to be better.

The MMQB quotes Emmy-winning actor Jim Parsons on why he loves the Texans. Also on this one-page magazine, Andrew Brandt translates what he thinks Schaub means when he says "I've got to be better."

Two interesting posts from Patrick D. Starr of StateoftheTexans.com taking a look at some X's-and-O's issues. Starr offers suggestions on some changes he thinks could help the Texans, and then uses All-22 film to break down plays by cornerback Johnathan Joseph and inside linebacker Joe Mays.

Post-loss, the Texans have a sense of urgency, writes Brian Smith of the Chronicle.
HOUSTON -- Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson nearly slipped out of the locker room while reporters were occupied with defensive end J.J. Watt.

Once caught, Jackson gave his honest view on the $42,000 fine he's planning to appeal. The fine resulted from a hard hit on Titans receiver Kendall Wright.

"We’re supposed to be physical and try to knock the ball loose from the guy when they catch it in situations that you can," Jackson said. "So that’s what we get paid to do. Now you tell me you’re going to take my money for doing that? That’s my style of play. That’s how I play. I’m not trying to be a dirty player. That’s just how I play the game."

It's a frustrating exercise for Jackson, who still says he won't change how he plays. His fellow starting corner Johnathan Joseph supported that thought later to me. Joseph said he doesn't think the fines will change how defensive backs hit because they still have to play the game.

Some of Jackson's key quotes:
  • "That’s a huge number. That’s a huge number. It’s outrageous. I don’t know. Can’t do nothing but appeal it. It happened, so that’s all I can do. I’ll never understand a $42,000 fine for a hit. Never. Guy got up. He was okay. I’ll never understand that regardless of the situation or the hit. That’s how I feel about it."
  • Asked if it's hard to know what's legal now: "We don’t want to blow guys’ knees out and have them out for the rest of the season. If you go low on them you got guys saying it’s dirty plays and we’re trying to hurt people. I don’t understand. Blow a guy’s knee out or go high and he can get up and play the rest of the game, play the rest of the season. It’s hard, but we’re defensive players. We get paid to be physical out there. That’s our job."
  • Last week Jackson, who went to Alabama, said he might give a Crimson Tide T-shirt to coach Gary Kubiak, whose alma mater Texas A&M lost to Alabama this weekend. "I was but I gotta save my money now, man. $42,000 fine, so I’m going to save all the money I can. I can’t do any out of the ordinary things like buy everybody an Alabama T-shirt. I can’t do it. I gotta keep that money in my pocket."
  • "When I’m out there playing, I’m not thinking about no fine. I’m not. That’s my style of play. I pride myself on being physical. I want to let receivers know that I’m out there. I’m going to be out here on this corner. Every time you come out here, you’re going to feel it. That’s what I pride myself on. Games to come, this week, whatever. I’ll continue to be physical from here on out. Hopefully everybody will have their aim a little lower. But I’m going to continue to play how I play."

Upon Further Review: Texans Week 1

September, 10, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Houston Texans' 31-28 win over the San Diego Chargers:

Mental toughness: Just how sure were the Texans that they were going to win last night's game?

Midway through the third quarter, safety Danieal Manning and inside linebacker Brian Cushing started chatting about another improbable comeback from years ago. That one was during Manning's rookie year in 2006, when he played for the Bears. You'll remember that as the game that led to then-Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green ranting that the Bears "are who we thought they were."

[+] EnlargeRandy Bullock
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsHouston Texans kicker Randy Bullock and holder Shane Lechler celebrate Bullock's game-winning field goal as time ran out Monday night in San Diego.
Manning brought it up to Cushing as a reminder that these things happen. And because this game felt the same.

"Right in the middle of the third quarter, when it was about 28-14," Cushing said with a chuckle. "We just felt it. We felt that we could do it. Got it done."

With every player I spoke with after the game, I asked why this game was different than other times the Texans have faced big deficits. The answer most often was that this is a more mature team that has been through such adversity before. The Texans were accused of lacking mental toughness last season, and last night's game was a step toward proving that isn't true anymore.

While on the subject of accusations, the Texans turned another one on its head last night. I asked cornerback Johnathan Joseph if the Texans made a statement with the win: "Hopefully so, showing that we’re a resilient team, we can come back and play from behind."

Vintage Dre: Texans tight end Owen Daniels said he thinks Andre Johnson is actually getting better each year. Johnson had 146 yards on 12 catches, eight of which came in the second half as the Texans mounted their comeback. It wasn't easy on his body, but Johnson played like a kid again. He and quarterback Matt Schaub excelled when their team needed them the most.

About that first half: The start of the game was about as bad as it could have gone for the Texans, and they can't ignore that. Last night's win wasn't just a case of coming from behind, it was the biggest comeback in franchise history. That requires a big deficit first.

"If we're mature enough to hang in there and win tonight, we have to be mature enough to know we didn't play very good, too," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said.

Every phase of Houston's game struggled. The Texans' offensive and defensive lines got outplayed, they only made it to the red zone once, they allowed 100 percent red-zone efficiency on three trips, and their average drive started 11 yards shy of where the Chargers did. And, of course, the first three plays of the game were a bobbled kickoff return, a Schaub interception, and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Ryan Mathews. Rivers finished the half with a 122.6 passer rating.

Third-down efficiency was big: In the first half, the Chargers converted 63 percent of their third downs, often with big plays. In the first quarter, they converted a third-and-6 with a 17-yard pass to Eddie Royal, another third-and-6 with an 11-yard pass to Danny Woodhead and a third-and-7 with a 15-yard pass to Antonio Gates. In the second quarter, there was a 34-yard pass to Gates and a 10-yard touchdown pass -- both on third downs.

"Coming into halftime, that’s what we were saying, we’ve got to get off the field on third downs," cornerback Kareem Jackson said. "It definitely swung the game in our favor tremendously."

Indeed, in the second half, the Chargers converted only two.
Reading the coverage of the Texans...

In the wake of inside linebacker Brian Cushing's signing, the Houston Chronicle created a slideshow of the highest-paid Texans sorted by guaranteed money. In order: receiver Andre Johnson, quarterback Matt Schaub, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, left tackle Duane Brown, Cushing, running back Arian Foster, center Chris Myers, defensive end Antonio Smith, defensive end J.J. Watt (on his fully guaranteed rookie deal), tight end Owen Daniels and safety Danieal Manning.

Dale Robertson of the Chronicle begins this day-after story on Cushing's extension with a fun anecdote about Cushing head-butting Justin Tuggle before the Texans' preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. It is quite possible the most Brian Cushing of all anecdotes. Robertson also uses some of Cushing's thoughts from his press conference yesterday.

During the press conference, Cushing and general manager Rick Smith talked about how closely they kept in touch during Cushing's rehab. Smith paid serious attention on his own, and Cushing made sure he knew every time Cushing hit a new milestone. He sent photos and videos regularly to show his general manager how well he was healing. Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press starts there.

A view from the other side: Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune scouts the Texans. He calls Watt, Foster, Cushing and Johnson players in the top five at their position (forgetting Brown, who I'd certainly say is in the top five at left tackle), but calls Schaub "more caretaker than playmaker."
Reading the coverage of the Houston Texans...

Quarterback Matt Schaub tells John McClain of the Houston Chronicle that Antonio Smith is right, anything short of the Super Bowl would be a failure for the Texans. It's been their refrain since last season.

On Monday Ed Reed put on pads for the first time since he joined the Texans, writes James Palmer of CSN Houston. Reed's teammate, cornerback Johnathan Joseph said having Reed at safety will buy the cornerbacks more time. Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Friday the Texans will likely make a decision about Reed's status for Monday night's game by early this week.

Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus helped out a couple undrafted rookies with a hamstring injury early in camp that kept him out for the entire preseason. But Mercilus said he'll be ready for the Texans' opener in San Diego. He also expects double-digit sacks from himself, writes Drew Doughterty from the team's website. If he can, that will be big for the Texans. They didn't get much pressure from the outside last year, getting most of it instead from inside guys Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt.

The Texans have gone through several stages of their development and are now the "big boys" says Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle. Now that the build is over, Robertson takes a look at the Texans' roster to explain just what they built.
Two Texans made appearances in the top 50 for our NFL defensive player rankings, which resumed Monday: cornerback Johnathan Joseph at 43 and safety Ed Reed at 42.

Monday ESPN revealed players ranked between 41 and 50 on both offense and defense. Expect more Texans ahead, but so far Joseph, Reed and center Chris Myers have appeared on the lists.

Joseph enters this season feeling healthier than he did last season, during which he played through two sports hernias.

Reed, of course, is on the list for his play as a Baltimore Raven. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Reed has 16 interceptions since 2008 on passes of at least 15 yards -- the most in the league during that span.

The lists are the result of votes from 63 experts from ESPN TV, ESPN.com, ESPN radio, insider, Stats and Info and the city cites. AFC South blogger emeritus Paul Kuharsky was among the voters.