HOUSTON -- Two weeks ago, perhaps Jaleel Johnson thought he would be a member of the Houston Texans. His preseason production warranted a roster spot, especially on a defensive line with average talent.
Instead, Johnson was waived on cut-down day, looking for a new home and another team. At least, that's likely what he thought when leaving NRG Stadium.
But now the Texans have elected to bring back Johnson, following his brief stint on the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad. Houston needs depth on the defensive line following an injury to starting defensive tackle Vincent Taylor.
Why was Johnson the name Houston elected to sign? With plenty of bigger prospects available, it feels strange to see a fifth-year defensive tackle being the guy Houston returns toward.
Why Johnson? Simple if you ask Texans head coach David Culley. Familiarity played a vital role in the decision.
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When asked if the Texans will contemplate moving on from Fairbairn, Culley replied: “I haven’t even thought about that.”
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"He knows exactly what we’re all about," Culley said. "Again, when we made the cut to be able to do what we did, we knew we were letting go of a guy that would be in this league and be playing. We’re very fortunate right now with the situation with Vincent (Taylor) that we’re able to get him back.”
The 6-foot-3 defensive tackle recorded seven tackles in preseason games. He took reps with the first-team defense, lining up next to Taylor, Maliek Collins and second-year defender Ross Blacklock.
The question turns to who will start in place of Taylor, who is expected to miss six or more weeks after undergoing ankle surgery. Culley did not state if Blalock, DeMarcus Walker or rookie Roy Lopez would move up the depth chart.
Perhaps playing a rotational style would be the best approach this week against the Cleveland Browns' offense. The Browns feature a top-tier combination of running backs with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
"Offensively, they got a lot of weapons," Culley said. "They got a very good quarterback, they got probably the two best combo running backs in the game. They got skill all over the place and a very good offensive line. It’s a big challenge.