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Houston Texans

Kubiak: Johnson playing at elite level


Coach Gary Kubiak had a lot to be happy about a day after the Texans' 35-6 win over the Bengals. The Texans now are ranked fourth in the league in offense, averaging 371.6 yards per game. Plus, Dunta Robinson looks like he is close to returning to his starting spot at cornerback.

D-Rob getting close: Dunta Robinson showed on Sunday that he is no longer trying to make a comeback and is ready to roll. Against the Bengals, Robinson notched seven tackles, two passes defensed and an interception.

That interception gave the cornerback 12 for his career, which set a Texans record. More importantly, his performance reaffirmed his status as the emotional leader of a young defensive unit.

"It's just great to have him out there," Kubiak said. "His teammates really respect him. He brings a lot to the table. He makes our team more physical just by the way he plays the game, and he's brought a lot of energy to the group."

Kubiak has tried to bring Robinson back gradually, limiting him to less than 40 snaps in his second game since suffering knee and hamstring injuries on Nov. 4, 2007. But D-Rob's play has made it hard for the coach to take him off the field.

"I don't think any of us knew that when he came back, how quickly he would adapt to playing again," Kubiak said. "It's been a long time since he's been on that field and to get out there in a competitive environment and get knocked around a little bit. The key thing has been the response has been very good. He's come out of each practice, each game feeling very good. Yesterday, he had a lot of confidence. He played extremely well, too. He tackled well, gets a big interception.

"Let's see how he comes back Wednesday. But, to play 39 or 40 plays, you're only 20 to 25 plays away from saying you can play the whole football game. But we'll continue to do what's best for him. We won't push him to the limit too quickly. We'll let him kind of dictate to us on how he feels and where we go from here."

{QUOTE}'Dre, one of the best: Kubiak said that Andre Johnson is playing as well as he's ever seen a wide receiver play the game. That's a huge statement to make, considering that Kubiak has coached Jerry Rice, who was selected to 13 Pro Bowls and won three Super Bowls.

But 'Dre is putting up the numbers that legends are made of. He leads all NFL receivers in receptions (56) and receiving yards (772). His 110.3 yards-per-game average this season also leads all receivers.

"I've been around a while," Kubiak said. "I've been around some good ones. I've been around Jerry Rice in San Francisco, Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey (in Denver). I've been around some very good ones, and right now, he's special. I mean, he wants the ball. The plays he's making after the catch.

"He took a pounding yesterday. Obviously, they were going to make sure he got hit after he caught the ball and he popped right back up. The month that he's had has been extremely special, and people are trying to do some things to take him away. But, as I've told you before, we're really moving him around. He's responded to that. He responds to the mental pressure we put on him to get him open."

Veteran safeties hit their stride: Kubiak has been experimenting with the secondary, rotating cornerbacks DeMarcus Faggins and Fred Bennett and trying different combinations at safety.

On Sunday, he might have found a formula that works. Ninth-year pro Nick Ferguson started for Will Demps, and safety Eugene Wilson excelled in nickel packages.

"We're searching for some identity on defense," Kubiak said. "We haven't been playing the way I think we're capable of playing. We need to communicate better. We had a couple of veterans who've played a lot of football games and done a lot of good things in this league, so we gave them an opportunity. They've been working for it, and they went out and took advantage of it yesterday."

Wilson, who played with the Patriots for five seasons before signing with Houston this year, grabbed his second interception of the season and could start opposite of Ferguson against the Vikings.

"He (Wilson) started at safety in nickel, but he did rotate with Nick a little bit during the game," Kubiak said. "We like that combination of those two guys just because of how much football they've played and how smart they are. I think they also help Brandon (Harrison). Brandon is a very young player who's trying to become a big-time player right now at a very young age. When he's out there with them, I think he's very comfortable with them, so they're going to all play."

Injury notes: Running back Ahman Green came out of Sunday's game with cramps in his leg and was sore on Monday. He will be listed as day-to-day this week.

Tight end Joel Dreessen injured his jaw, but should practice on Wednesday.

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