Andre Johnson provides tough challenge for Giants secondary

Perhaps more than anyone else on the Giants roster, safety Antrel Rolle knows exactly what the Giants will face Sunday in opposing wide receiver Andre Johnson. Rolle and Johnson were teammates for two years at the University of Miami and still work out together in the offseason, and are “fairly” close according to Rolle.

“He’s determined to be the bets. I definitely think he’s one of the best one or two receivers in the league,” Rolle said. “He has extremely great work ethic, I work with him in the offseason a lot, so I understand his background a lot, I understand his mentality.”

After facing Carolina’s Steve Smith in week one and Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne in week two, the Giants will face another top-flight wide receiver in Johnson. While Johnson is listed as questionable for the game with an ankle practice after being limited in the practice Friday, Johnson said that he expects to play in the game.

“Some teams might gameplan against him, I know a lot of teams like to double coverage him and they should,” Rolle said. “But with us, we’re just going in with a game plan that we have to go stop both the run and the pass.”

Johnson has played in three games this season, missing last weekend’s game against the Raiders, and has caught 19 passes for a team-high 255 yards and one touchdown. Johnson leads the NFL by averaging 90 yards per game since the start of the 2006 season, and is averaging 96.6 yards a game since the start of the 2007 campaign.

The Giants have seen Johnson just once before in 2006, when they defeated the Texans 14-10 at Giants Stadium. Johnson led all receivers that day with nine catches for 83 yards.

While the Texans have had much success on the ground rushing with Arian Foster this season, quarterback Matt Schaub has still thrown for 1,037 yards and seven touchdowns. If the Giants commit too much to the run, Schaub could burn them with a long play-action pass to Johnson. The secondary is aware that it must keep tabs on where No. 80 is at on the field at all times.

“He’s a big body and he goes up and get the ball. He’s not scared of going across the middle,” Giants safety and former Hurricane Kenny Phillips said. “He makes himself available to the quarterback, he’s really quarterback friendly.”