Heading into the 2013 season, it has been said that the duo of Johnathan Joseph and starting cornerback Kareem Jackson could be the best in all of NFL. In the two years that Pro Bowl corner Joseph has been in Houston, the Texans have earned back-to-back AFC South Division titles and their first two playoff appearances in franchise history.
"It just shows you what hard work and determination can do, but at the same time, you got to go out there and do it on the field and prove you are worthy of the attention and things like that," Joseph said Thursday. "I think right now is a good start in training camp with me and Kareem and the rest of the defensive backs putting in the work on the practice fields. Hopefully, it pays off for us this season."
Quarterback Matt Schaub has taken notice of the Texans' secondary while facing it during training camp 11-on-11 drills.
"They've looked great," Schaub said Thursday. "You look at where J-Jo and Kareem are in their careers and the type of tandem that they are. You add (CB) Brice (McCain) coming off his injury inside. Brice is, I think, one of the best inside cover corners you're going to find at the nickel spot and he is always tight coverage. It makes me be accurate; it makes me be precise in where I'm throwing it to get my receivers the best chance to make plays on it."
Last season, Jackson had arguably his best season with a career-high 61 solo tackles, four interceptions, and 16 passes deflected. According to Joseph, Kareem made changes that elevated him to the next level of performance.
"Putting in the hard work, things like taking care of his body, getting his weight, losing about five pounds and gaining some muscle and toning up," the All-Pro corner said of Jackson. "It's playing consistent and playing with great technique and things like that and obviously making plays on the ball. So, I think he's done a combination of all those things together and now it's paying off for him."
Brice McCain, the nickel cornerback, was re-signed this offseason after finishing 2012 on Injured Reserve. With McCain's four-game absence in December, the Texans' secondary suffered, giving up 15 touchdowns in the month of December. Brandon Harris, in his second year, stepped into his role but McCain's absence was noticeable.
"Obviously, Brice has been the guy who has started in the nickel for a couple of years for us and to have him go down, throw a young guy like Brandon Harris who is ready at the time but you know it's his first time starting, and we were making a playoff run," Joseph explained. "So for us, I think it's just about keeping our guys healthy so anytime the next guy has to step up, he's ready to play."
Joseph suffered injuries of his own last season. He missed two games in 2012 with groin and hamstring injuries. The eight-year veteran added daily yoga and stretching to his routine this offseason to help reduce his chance of injuries. He even tried to convince teammate Kareem Jackson to try it out.
"We train in different places, but I called him up on the phone and told him that he needed to try this yoga out," Joseph said of his conversation with Jackson. "I was going in there and losing five or six pounds of sweat a day. Obviously, I'm working my hips and different joints and things like that, and stretching."
Joseph says that incremental changes in his routine are his key to preventing big problems later down the road, as far as injuries are concerned.
"It's just about taking care of the small things and let everything else take care of itself."