Talib a measuring stick for Johnson

HOUSTON -- After playing each other last season, Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson and Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib offered mutual expressions of respect.

"I think he's one of the top guys in the league in my opinion," Johnson said. "You like going against guys like that. You get to see where your game is and it's a challenge. You like to go against the best."

Johnson had eight catches for 95 yards in each of those meetings last season with no touchdowns.

This season, Johnson is averaging 91.1 yards per game, the second-highest average for players in their 11th year in NFL history. He is second to Jerry Rice, who averaged 115.5 yards per game at age 33 in 1995.

Though Johnson spoke highly of Talib, his play this year has been up and down. He's dealt with a hip injury. Pro Football Focus gave Talib positive grades in five games overall and in pass coverage.

Talib held Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas to four passes for 41 yards on nine targets last Sunday. It was Thomas's lowest-receiving yard total in a game this season.

"I think he brings a little bit of both to the game," Johnson said of Talib. "He can play physical, he mixes it up pretty well. He's a big cornerback. I went against him twice last year. It was a good challenge. Lot of respect for each other."