Dolphins Wary of Johnson

When Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan breaks down film of Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson, Nolan sees a player who is special not because of his size and his speed — two of Johnson's best attributes — but because of the way Johnson competes.

"The thing that I think he does the best is competes," Nolan said. "He's an outstanding competitor and you know, that's not really true in all cases. There's an awfully lot of talented guys out there — some guys make it and some guys don't.

"I think a competitive level has an awful lot to do with it."

Figuring a way to defend Johnson would be a difficult task for any defense. It could be especially so for the Dolphins, who allowed Tom Brady a career-high 517 yards passing during a 38-24 defeat against the New England Patriots on Monday night.

The Texans' offense has the potential to be just as explosive as the Patriots were — and usually are. By Nolan's measure, the Texans had the second-best offense in the NFL in 2010.

Johnson, of course, is a big part of that. At 6-3, he's simply taller than many of the defensive backs who are attempting to defend him. He's strong and doesn't lack for speed, either.

Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith said it's especially important to defend Johnson well when the Texans utilize the play-action — which they often do.

"You watch their biggest plays, they come off play-action," Smith said. "First of all, they have a great running game. And it's hard to ignore. And defenses are taught to have everybody run to the ball. And you know, when you have a running game like that, sometimes a cornerback's eyes get kind of stuck on the play-action.

"... Next thing you know, you've got this guy, Andre, going down the field 50 yards."

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