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No ordinary Joseph: Corner has stabilized Houston's defense

Johnathan Joseph is a pretty understated guy, which is why his free-agent signing with Houston didn't cause much buzz, other than with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who was livid that the club didn't retain a key member of his secondary that he'd helped develop.

Joseph's impact on what was one of the worst secondaries in recent history last season can't be overstated. The Texans have the NFL's fifth-ranked pass defense, with 10 interceptions. Joseph has three of those to share the team lead with Jason Allen. He's still learning some of the intricacies of Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, but "all the guys are buying in, so we're going to keep getting better," Joseph said.

Linebacker Brian Cushing, who quietly is having a dynamic season and is playing better than he has in the NFL, said that Joseph's arrival really helped stabilized things on the back end.

"He is a tremendous, lockdown corner that allows us to do a lot of things up front because he's got things taken care of," Cushing said. "He also gives us some leadership. He's played in a lot of big games and won, so we know when we're in a tough spot, he's going to be okay."

I asked Joseph about leaving the Bengals, where he played for five seasons, and he said it was tough, mainly because of Zimmer's influence on him. However, Cincinnati simply didn't pony up the guaranteed money that Houston did and the decision was easy.

The Texans are better off for it, but, as Joseph pointed out, "They're doing OK in Cincinnati."

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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