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Texans aim to contain Johnson


The Texans' defense has a tall task on Monday night, trying to contain Tennessee running back Chris Johnson

Much attention has been focused on Vince Young's recent return to action for the Titans, and justifiably so. The fourth-year pro has gone from backup back to starter and led his ballclub to three straight wins.

But it's the guy behind him - literally - in the backfield who has made a bigger and more consistent impact, in running back Chris Johnson.

Last Sunday against the Bills, Johnson ran for 132 yards on 26 carries, scoring twice. He also tallied an even 100 yards receiving on nine catches. The talented second-year pro from East Carolina leads the NFL in rushing yardage with 1,091 and is respected by all in the Texans' locker room.

"We know he's an edge rusher and he loves getting outside," linebacker Brian Cushing said. "Once he gets out there, no one's going to catch him. It's preventing the big play. You take away two or three plays from the last game and it's a different game."

Adds defensive tackle Amobi Okoye: "The kid is fast. Ridiculously fast. It's our job to make sure we keep those yards down."

In a Week 2 matchup at Tennessee, the Texans allowed Johnson to get loose for a 91-yard touchdown run and a 69-yard touchdown reception. Houston won the game, but Johnson accounted for 197 yards rushing yards on 16 carries and 87 receiving yards on nine catches. He scored three times in the game.

"You see every week he can get you two, three yards and then all of a sudden, 90," linebacker Zac Diles said. "So you've got to stay on your keys and be in your gaps. He's fast, he's an athlete and we're going to definitely have a good game coming up for us."

{QUOTE}Sometimes, a running back's numbers are inflated by one long run. In Johnson's case in his first go-round against the Texans in 2009, he had two - the 91-yarder and a 57-yard score.

Subtract those two runs, and the Texans were able to limit him to 3.5 yards a pop on his other 14 carries. But that's little consolation.

"That's the thing—you contain him the first two or three plays and then all of a sudden he busts out the big one," defensive end Mario Williams said. "We have to minimize the big plays."

Johnson was brought down for no gain or a loss six times on the ground and four times as a receiver in Week 2. Even though Frank Bush's defense turned in that type of feast-or-famine performance against the speedy running back, the Texans still focus on how impressive a ball-carrier Johnson has been.

"The guy has it all," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "He's breaking tackles. He's outrunning people. He's just a great running back. If you want any chance to beat this football team, you've got to contain him. He's taking two- and three-yard gains and taking them 80 and 90 yards. The problem is that he's just as fast as a defensive back, so that's where all the long touchdown runs are coming from. He's a tough guy."

With Johnson's toughness in mind, linebacker DeMeco Ryans said there's only answer for the talented ball carrier: Be tough back.

"We have to be physical," Ryans said. "We have to hit him. Any opportunity we get, we're going to have to be physical against them and that's the key to when you're playing any running back. I think it's no different playing him."

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