Even with AP, Texans’ secondary must focus

Even with AP, Texans’ secondary must focus
December 21, 2012, 8:00 am
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Antonio Smith shares his thoughts on Peterson

The key to stopping the Minnesota Vikings is pretty easy: stop Adrian Peterson. OK, well maybe just slow him down.

Peterson has 1,812 yards through 14 games and is closing in on Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. Peterson has been the focus of discussion this week. And he’s most certainly been the focus of the Texans’ defense.

But the Texans’ secondary can’t worry about Peterson too much. They still have to stop a passing attack – even if it’s a sub par one.

“They have some guys on the outside that are capable of making some big plays,” cornerback Kareem Jackson said. “Just by the preseason game we played them, I think they had three big plays for touchdowns. I’m sure the front seven, their focus will be on Adrian Peterson but at the same time, we have to cover guys, so that will be our primary job.”

While Jackson is right about the big plays in that preseason game between the two clubs, it was the final preseason game – the one where starters don’t play much – so take it with a grain of salt.

And the Vikings – to put it bluntly – have been awful through the air. They rank 31st in the NFL in passing yards per game with 181. Christian Ponder has thrown for 2,527 yards, good for 26th in the NFL.

“I think it may be different from a standpoint of we’re used to guys lining us up and throwing it 30, 40, 50 times a game,” corner Johnathan Joseph said. “Some teams have to do that when you’re behind and you’re in trouble, sometimes you have to. If you let the team gain the lead, they can control the game and run the ball. But for us, it will just be one of those games.”  

There’s a good chance the Texans’ safeties will be providing the corners with less help than normal because of Peterson. But it’s possible the corners won’t really need much help.

Without Percy Harvin, who was placed on the Injured Reserve earlier this season, the Vikings don’t really have any threat in the receiving game. Harvin played in just nine games before being put on the shelf and he’s still the team’s leading receiver. And it’s not even close.

So as much as the two corners say they’ll need to worry about their receivers, they’ll also need to be ready for some gang tackling. When Peterson gets going, sometimes it can take a whole team to bring him down.

Peterson has rushed for 909 yards after contact. That alone would rank him 13th in the NFL in rushing.

“We’ll have to get in on the action as well, reading keys and knowing whether it’s a run play or a pass play,” Jackson said.

So, the corners will need to cover their man until Peterson bursts through the line like a freight train going downhill. Then, everyone has to lend a hand to bring him down, the linemen, linebackers, corners, heck the hot dog vender might want to get in there too.

“Of course, once the guy breaks through the line of scrimmage, he’s fair for everyone,” Joseph said. “And then you come out of the responsibility from a coverage standpoint and you fit in where needed in the run game.”

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