Non-contact injuries are often the worst ones.
That was the feeling in Houston yesterday when Texans All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson fell untouched to the Reliant Stadium turf. Many speculated that it could be a knee injury – which would have been the scariest scenario – but it appears that Johnson injured his hamstring instead. The MRI today will tell us more, but everyone knows how much Johnson means to the team.
"The way he went down was deflating because it was like he just got shot, and that scares the heck out of you," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's very difficult. He's the leader of our team and has been the leader of this franchise for a long time."
In past seasons, the Texans could not handle a multiple-game absence from their best player. However this year’s squad may fare better. Against the Steelers, running back Arian Foster returned to the lineup with 155 yards rushing and a touchdown in the 17-10 win. Houston knows the AFC South is wide open this season with Peyton Manning’s dominating presence on the sidelines in Indianapolis. The Titans will be tough in the trenches all year, but Tennessee looks like the only obstacle to the Texans making their first-ever postseason appearance.
It’s hard to see Johnson playing this week against the Raiders. With Foster back and Wade Phillips coordinating a top ten defense, Gary Kubiak will most likely rest Johnson and then see what the elite wideout’s availability is for road trips to Baltimore and Tennessee.
As for fantasy owners who took Johnson in the first round, the MRI news is highly anticipated. Those fans may look to the Bay area for possible one-week replacements, as Josh Morgan of the 49ers and Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Raiders had big games in Week 4. Houston’s Jacoby Jones is also a possibility. If Johnson is out longer, expect the Texans to sign a receiver and tweak the offense to throw more to the tight ends and running backs.