When Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson went down with a hamstring injury during Sunday's 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team had to be mortified. No one more so than running back Arian Foster.
Johnson is unquestionably one of the most important players to his team in the NFL. His diverse skill-set completely opens up Houston's offense. He has the reliable hands of a possession receiver, but his blazing speed makes him a deep threat and forces defenses to back off on press-coverage. That, in turn, opens up running lanes for Foster.
With Johnson expected to miss at least two to three weeks, quarterback Matt Schaub needs to quickly get acquainted with his other receiving targets. Most notably, fifth-year wideout Jacoby Jones.
Jones is prepping to start this week and Texans head coach Gary Kubiak expressed confidence in him on Monday. Jones has plenty of skills. At 6'2" and 210 pounds, he has prototypical size for a receiver at the NFL level.
That said, teams are almost certain to stack the box to stop Foster, put Jones in single-coverage and dare Schaub to throw to him. Therefore, the 27-year-old out of Lane College needs to show he's capable of carrying the load while Johnson is out, otherwise Houston's running attack will grind to a halt.
While it may be a lot of pressure to put on a guy who has just seven catches for 91 yards this season, Houston's ability to move the football while Johnson is out will depend on just how much Jones can do on the perimeter.