Key Matchup: David vs Johnson

Bengals wide receiver has been pulling in the long ball in four of his last five games. On Monday night, Colts cornerback Jason David will be responsible for trying to minimize Johnson's impact on the outcome of the game. Greg Talmage breaks down this key matchup for you...

Chad Johnson has turned and burned his fair share of right cornerbacks this season. Just ask Fred Thomas of the New Orleans Saints or the Chargers' Drayton Florence.

Johnson will be looking to add Colts corner Jason David to that list Monday Night. While it has been 3 weeks since Johnson caught a touchdown pass, he is enjoying one of the most consistent stretches of his career. During that period, Johnson has averaged 105 yards receiving yards per game, 16.4 yard per catch average and more importantly the Bengals are 3-0.

Chad Johnson teamed with WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh and slot receiver Chris Henry compose one of the most formidable receiving trios in the NFL. So Colts head coach Tony Dungy has an interesting choice to make. Should he attempt to slow down Cincinnati's rushing attack by committing an extra defender into the box and risk leaving one or two members of this trio in single coverage? Or can the Colts trust their front seven to slow Rudi Johnson?

CB Jason David (Getty Images)
One corner who likely won't see many single coverage situations is Jason David. If and when the Colts opt to leave a corner in a one-on-one situation, it will likely be CB Nick Harper on WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, especially when you consider that he's battling a sore back.

Johnson aligns as the "X" in Cincinnati's base scheme. The Pro Bowl receiver features a terrific combination of speed and size. He is an explosive playmaker and effective at all three levels in the passing game. He knows how to use his long arms and short-area quickness to create separation off the line. Although he doesn't always run picture-perfect routes, he has improved in that department and knows how to use his size to beat defenders. Better on deep routes than short routes, Johnson has a natural downfield setup and is aggressive going after the ball downfield.

Jason David is enjoying his most consistent season as a Colt. The third-year corner out of Washington State looks more and more comfortable in a zone. He is keeping receivers in front of him and making smart decisions when it comes to jumping routes or breaking for the ball. David definitely matured in his position and has a better grasp of what he can and cannot get away with given his skill set.

David's strength is playing the short and intermediate routes because he has reactive ability and body position to stay on the hip of the WR. An important aspect of this matchup, however, will be the vertical passing game. Chad Johnson has caught at least one very deep ball in four of the five last games with those big catches ranging from 42 to 74 yards.

David has the hips and feet to run deep vertical routes, but once he's beat deep, he's beat. David will still struggle in his recovery ability down the field and has trouble staying in phase against double moves. You can count on Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and Johnson to test him in this area on Monday night.


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