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News & Notes: Johnson Is Primary Concern For Secondary


When last the Redskins saw Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, he was just starting to emerge as an elite player in the NFL.

This was four years ago.

On Sept. 24, 2006, the Redskins defeated the Texans at Reliant Stadium despite Johnson's remarkable performance. He caught a season-high 11 passes for 152 yards, including a 53-yarder on the game's opening drive to set up a touchdown.

Johnson would go on to post 100 catches three of the past four years, including 101 catches for 1,569 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns last year. He has four Pro Bowl berths to his credit.

Certainly, it's a tough task for the Redskins' secondary.

Johnson lines up on the outside and in the slot, so all of the Redskins' cornerbacks are going to be covering him. They can expect help downfield from safeties.

"He's a big physical receiver," Rogers said of the 6-3, 228-pound Johnson. "They do a lot with him. They have a lot of routes, double moves. They run different plays out of the same formation and alignment."

Rogers said he expects to match Johnson's physical play at the line of scrimmage.

"DeAngelo and I, we know we can run with him," Rogers said. "I don't think [Johnson] getting past us is going to be a problem. But his physical play and his ability to run crisp routes is going to be the challenge."

Phillip Buchanon, the Redskins' third cornerback, knows Johnson better than anyone. The two first met at a football camp in Miami in 1998.

Buchanon and Johnson would go on to be teammates at the University of Miami. They were teammates on the Texans in 2005-06.

"He's been doing it since high school," Johnson said. "Andre and I are very close. He is a great guy. He doesn't cause any confusion with teammates. He's very quiet and low key. He just plays football."

Johnson becomes even more dangerous now that Houston has started to establish a strong ground game. Running back Arian Foster rushed for 234 yards in the Texans' 34-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday.

"The Texans are based off the run," Buchanon said. "They're going to run the ball at you and run the ball at you, and then they'll set you up so that they can go deep to Andre."

So how do you stop him?

"We can only contain him," Buchanon said with a smile. "He's a big threat. We just have to stick to our game plan and make sure everybody is on the same in the secondary."

Back in 2006, Johnson's wide receiver coach was none other than Kyle Shanahan.

Shanahan, of course, went on to serve as Texans offensive coordinator before joining the Redskins in the same role this year.

Needless to say, the defensive backs have been peppering Shanahan with questions on the best way to cover Johnson.

"They have been hitting me up all week, but there is no secret," Shanahan said. "He is very, very good. I think everybody knows that. He is tough to stop one-on-one. You have to have help and when he does make his play, you have to make sure they are not big plays. You have to keep him in front of you."


Devin Thomas had no reps at wide receiver in the Redskins' season opener against Dallas.

Given that Thomas ended last season as a starter, his role as a reserve has been somewhat of a surprise.

Even to Thomas.

"It is what it is," he said. "I'm trying to put my best foot forward and stay humble, keep my head up and not be down. It's hard, especially this being my third year. I really want to be a big part of this offense."

Thomas did play on special teams against Dallas and he returned two kickoffs for a solid 34.0-yard average.

"I have fire back there because that's my only opportunity to touch the ball," Thomas said.

Said offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan: "He ran his tail off on the kickoff returns and I loved watching him hit it. I think the more comfortable he gets with the offense, the more he will play like that with that speed and the speed that he has when it starts."

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