Andre Johnson still dominant, Colts' Pagano says


If Andre Johnson has lost a step -- as Texans owner Bob McNair intimated last week -- the wide receiver's new coach hasn't seen it on game film.

"You don't see a huge drop-off numbers-wise," coach Chuck Pagano said, via's Mike Wells. "Maybe in touchdowns. But you still see a guy who is more than capable of stretching the defense. Certainly somebody who an opponent can't just line up and say, 'Don't worry about Andre Johnson.'"

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If defenses still opt to send extra coverage toward T.Y. Hilton, Pagano expects Johnson to take advantage as a "big, possession type guy" on the underneath routes that an injury-ravaged Reggie Wayne couldn't convert in the second half of last season.

"He's a big body guy that can still separate, create separation," Pagano continued. "He's got a big catch radius. But again, the contested catches that you see on tape. It's very difficult to match up."

Pagano was even more effusive at the NFL Annual Meeting last week, telling reporters that he saw a "dominant guy" and a "force to be reckoned with" on Johnson's 2014 tape.

"You need to do everything you can," Pagano added, "to make sure he doesn't wreck the game."

So whose interpretation is closer to the truth, McNair's or Pagano's?

It's undeniable that Johnson has lost a step. His 2014 production plummeted by more than 20 catches and 500 yards from his 2012-2013 averages.

But how much of that is attributable to subpar quarterback play and a reduced role in Bill O'Brien's new system?

Johnson's 10-catch, 134-yard performance in Week 17 suggests the answer to that question is "quite a bit." With DeAndre Hopkins banged up and Case Keenum dialing Johnson's number, the seven-time Pro Bowler shredded the Jaguars' secondary.

Now set to catch passes from the best quarterback of his illustrious 13-year career, Johnson is a lead-pipe lock for 90 receptions and 1,000 yards if he stays healthy.

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