Texans need Joseph healthy, practicing

Johnathan Joseph's groin injury meant he was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday.

That’s not good news for the Texans cornerback or the Texans defense.

Joseph was a Pro Bowler last year, when he posted a 10.8 rating (ninth among corners) at Pro Football Focus. This year, hampered by injuries, he’s 50th at PFF with an 0.5 (52nd among corners).

In 2011 he had a negative rating in just one game. This season he’s missed two games and has negative ratings in four of his 11 games.

After the loss in New England, he told me he thought he played “OK” and that he expected to practice fully this week.

"Of course there are plays I would like back," he said. "But overall, with the amount of time I've missed and things like that, I think I did OK. But it wasn't up to my standard, it wasn't a winning effort collectively."

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said that missing practice had hurt Joseph.

“The more he practices, the better he’ll get and the more it will help us,” Phillips said.

Said Joseph: "I always want to practice because you bond with your guys and get a feel for your game and things like that."

But he’s been limited.

When healthy and at the top of his game, he's assigned to the other team's top receiver and the rest of the pass defense is relieved of that burden.

The Texans need Joseph playing better against the Colts and Reggie Wayne. And there won’t be a team in the playoffs that won't hurt the Texans badly if their top corner doesn’t play like a top corner.

Perhaps his groin and hamstring are the biggest issues here. Without knowing how much those have factored in, I suspect his play has dropped off a bit from last year's high level. I know the lack of a steady pass rush from others outside of J.J. Watt has hurt the entire defensive backfield.

"All injury-related, although Houston’s pass rush at outside linebacker has been subpar," said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.

The one good development during Joseph's dip has been the improved performance of Kareem Jackson, the Texans' No. 2 corner. With a 9.6 rating he’s 12th over at PFF a year after he was rated at -3.7 (79th).