Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Texans matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at the Reliant Stadium
Raiders CB Tracy Porter vs. Texans WR Andre Johnson
Tale of the tape:
Porter (23): 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, sixth season, Indiana
Johnson (80): 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, 11th season, Miami
Andre Johnson has been an elite NFL receiver for more than a decade. The Houston Texans’ go-to guy is a big, powerful pass catcher who hasn’t lost a step after all these years.
“Andre Johnson is back to being a premiere receiver in this league,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He really is an explosive player for them down the field.”
That’s true, especially of late. Johnson has 62 receptions for 850 yards and five touchdowns, which have come in the past two weeks.
He’s formed a bond with new quarterback Case Keenum, as good a deep passer as there is despite his inexperience. Keenum has learned how to use Johnson’s size and power to the Texans’ advantage.
Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter isn’t as big or strong as Johnson, but his uncanny knack for pass defense evens this matchup.
Few are better than Porter at the point of no return, when a ball is coming and a corner has to make a play. Porter has excellent timing, with a penchant for deflecting passes just in the knick of time. That’s why, despite so many targets, few passes are completed.
Last week’s game against the Giants provides a perfect example of Porter at his best. He was targeted seven times yet allowed just two catches for 19 yards. He had an interception returned for a touchdown where he read a hook pattern, played far enough off to make the receiver seem open before jumping the route for an easy pick.
“Tracy is so good at that,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “When DBs get thrown at, you’ve got to see what they do with those ball skills. Tracy’s always been good with the ball coming his way, and he’s even getting better and better every week at that. It’s about not panicking at the point when a receiver’s hands come up, playing through there and being able to locate the ball. It’s an amazing skill that he has.”
Johnson will make some plays, especially when Porter rotates to the slot in the nickel package. When Porter is matched up with him on the outside and the Raiders give safety help over the top, the Raiders can surprise some people and take the ball away. A total of three interceptions have occurred with Johnson as the intended target. Another one, could put the Raiders in prime position to end their two-game losing streak.