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Texans’ improving secondary faces litmus test in Atlanta

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HOUSTON — The Texans’ secondary held up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ imposing wide receiver tandem of Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson in Week 3.

Now, their job gets even tougher Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones has 34 catches for 440 yards and four touchdowns through three games. He is on a landmark pace to finish the season with 181 catches, 2,346 yards and 21 touchdowns.

“Everybody knows what Julio can do,” Texans rookie cornerback Kevin Johnson said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge. Us as a whole on defense, we want to try and do our best to try and contain him.

“I haven’t really studied him yet, so I don’t know what type of stuff they do. But he’s a force. I don’t know what they’re going to be doing with him, but it will be intriguing to see.”

A first-round draft pick, Johnson said he has been watching Jones for years.

“It’s cool, man,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of like a dream come true; watching those guys for a long time and having a chance to compete against them is a dream come true.”

REPORT CARD VS. BUCCANEERS:

–PASSING OFFENSE: B. Ryan Mallett had a solid game in his second start of the year. He had one touchdown pass and one interception, which came on a pass deflection. He orchestrated the passing game smoothly.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: A – The Texans ran roughshod over the Buccaneers. Alfred Blue, in relief of Arian Foster who remains sidelined after undergoing groin surgery in August, rushed for 139 yards on 31 carries. Blue had just six yards on five carries against the Panthers.

–PASS DEFENSE: B+. Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson did a nice job of containing Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, who combined for nine catches for 141 yards but no touchdowns. They’re one of the biggest, most formidable tandems in the NFL.

–RUSH DEFENSE: A. The Texans completely bottled up Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, who finished with just 46 yards on 14 carries and the Bucs averaged only 2.9 yards per carry as a team.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: D. Texans kicker Randy Bullock missed an extra point and a 43-yard field goal. Punt returner Chandler Worthy fumbled. The kick coverage was ordinary.

–COACHING: B. The Texans remained committed to the running game and it paid dividends. It was a more disciplined game plan.


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