Rush needed to stop a Texans two-step

A week after facing Daunte Culpepper and the high-powered Minnesota Vikings offense, the Green Bay Packers defense will be challenged by the up-and-coming Houston Texans offense on Sunday night.

Houston ranks ninth in the league in total offense and ninth in passing. While Culpepper to Randy Moss and Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison generate more headlines, the combo of David Carr to Andre Johnson is fast developing into one of the league's most lethal.

Johnson, last year's first-round pick and a muscular receiver who draws comparisons to Philadelphia's Terrell Owens, ranks 10th in the league with 51 catches and sixth with 752 yards. Carr, the first overall pick in the 2002 draft, is having a breakout season. After struggling through typical early-career growing pains, Carr is completing 62.5 percent of his passes.

"With his God-given abilities and work ethic, he can really be something," Carr said of Johnson. "I have all the confidence in the world in putting the ball up for him and letting him try to bring it in. He's taken a lot of pride this season in developing his route-running skills."

After being torn to shreds by Culpepper in the fourth quarter last week, the Packers know they must improve their leaky pass coverage this week.

"He is making great decisions," Packers coach Mike Sherman said of Carr. "He's got that strong arm, and he moves very well and throws the ball well on the run."

Pressuring Carr will be critical. A woeful Packers pass rush came to life to sack Culpepper four times last week, with Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila showing some burst with two of the takedowns. Carr, who was sacked a league-record 76 times as a rookie, enjoyed great protection as Houston rolled to a 4-3 start. In his last two games — both blowout losses — Carr has been sacked nine times.

To compensate last week against Indianapolis, the Texans turned to maximum-protection schemes, meaning fewer players able to get involved in the route.

"If that's what we have to do to keep me off the ground and that's the only chance we have, then we have to do it," Carr said of the additional protection. "That's something we're going to have to address. We're going to have to figure out if we've got to get in different sets or run the ball more. We have to figure it out."

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