Texans make curious decision to sit Andre Johnson against the Colts

Andre Johnson needs to play as soon as he is ready to go so that he will be at or near top speed for the playoffs.

So imagine my surprise that he will not play tomorrow night in Indianapolis, despite his being healthy and ready to go.

It’s an interesting decision Gary Kubiak made to hold Johnson out of the game. While I disagree with it, I can accept that he has a different opinion. But his explanation confused me.

“I would love for Andre to get some playing time before we head into (playoffs),” Kubiak said. “He’s very close to coming back out here with his teammates, but, obviously, with the quick turnaround, it’s not very smart. We’ll get him some time to rest over the weekend.”

Huh? Quick turnaround? From what, exactly?

Johnson didn’t play in Sunday’s game, so he isn’t under a quick turnaround.

I wasn’t there when Kubiak said this, so I don’t get the context and don’t know if a follow-up question was asked, but it sounds like off reasoning. Maybe Kubiak was talking about the turnaround from Johnson’s workout on Tuesday. If so, then I would question whether he should have been put through a strenuous workout only two days before a game.

Typically, on Fridays, NFL teams have little more than a walk-through practice.

“I feel alright,” Johnson said. “Coach Kubiak has the final say. I’d like to play, but we’re going to do what’s best for the team and whatever we feel is best for me.”

No, you shouldn’t rush Johnson back. It would be worse for him to be hurt and have to miss a playoff game than to play it at about 80 percent of his standard when he is in top football game shape.

But he has a better chance of getting into top football game shape if he plays parts of two regular-season games than if he plays in only one. Johnson could have at least gotten a few snaps in on Thursday to get the juices flowing. Perhaps you let him sit the second half so he doesn’t have to go through a shutdown where his hamstring could tighten up on him.

Then he gets 10 days to prepare for the next week against Tennessee. In that one, you let him play even more snaps, and into the second half. That seems smarter to me than holding him out of this game.

Of course, all of this is moot if Johnson wasn’t at 100 percent on Sunday or Monday (but I am told by someone who knows, that he was good to go). Why wasn’t the thinking to give him a solid practice-type workout on one of those days and not on Tuesday, with the idea that he would then be able to get enough rest to play on Thursday?

As is, it is possible that Johnson will step into a playoff game having played only 2 3/4 games in the previous three months. If you saw his return against Jacksonville (two catches for 22 yards), you know he didn’t come back playing anywhere near his norm.

“He played too much,” Kubiak said at the time. “Dang it, I had him in there too many plays. He got tired on me. He took a step forward. It’s going to take a few weeks for him to get back to himself, but for the progress he’s made to play (against the Jaguars) and come out of the game okay, I feel good about that. I just wish I would’ve had 10 or 12 less snaps than I did. I think I left him out there too long.”

That is probably what we can expect from Johnson when he returns. A player not in football shape who has to play limited snaps. It would have been good for that limited game to have been tomorrow, more snaps the next week against the Titans, then (hopefully) full speed for the playoffs.
I’m still riding my preseason prediction of an AFC championship game. But I would feel a heck of a lot better about it if Johnson were on the field tomorrow night.

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