Roderick Johnson has found an NFL home in Houston.
And he unexpectedly found himself in the middle of an intense playoff game last weekend.
Texans starting right tackle Chris Clark suffered a concussion late in the game against Buffalo, and Johnson quickly settled in. The former Florida State offensive lineman played 15 snaps, including overtime as Houston took a 22-19 win.
“It was breathtaking,” Johnson told the Osceola this week. “I try not to live in the moment because the bullets were flying. So I really couldn’t be like, ‘This is my first playoff game.’ But it was a surreal experience just to be at home and now we have to do it again on the road.”
Clark is back at practice for Houston but Johnson will be ready if needed when the Texans play at Kansas City on Sunday at 3 p.m. Johnson started three regular-season games and played in 365 snaps in 2019, gaining considerable experience in what is his third NFL season but really his first where he has seen playing time.
Johnson was awarded the ACC’s Jacobs Trophy as the top offensive lineman in 2015 and ’16 but his transition to pro football has been a lesson in patience.
He was drafted in the fifth round by Cleveland in 2017 but was placed on the reserve/injured list in early September and never played a regular-season game for the Browns. He was waived by the Browns on June 19, 2018, but then was snapped up a day later by Houston. The Texans developed him as a practice-squad player for the majority of 2018 before he saw significant playing time this season.
Whether he’s lining up at right or left tackle, Johnson has handled the situations fairly well. He graded out at 67.9 this year although he allowed three sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Texans coach Bill O’Brien, who calls Johnson “A-Rod,” cited the lineman’s capabilities midseason.
“A-Rod plays the game with a good physical toughness and a good mindset,” O’Brien said. “I think you have to play that way.”
Johnson feels he has fit in well with the Texans and appreciates the team’s commitment to his development.
“The chemistry on the line is great,” Johnson said. “The chemistry is easy when you have a room full of good guys and good teammates. That’s not the hard part. I’ve been getting some snaps this year at left and right. I’ve just been next man up. Whenever my name is called, I can go.”
Johnson is blocking for quarterback Deshaun Watson, a former Clemson star who has thrown for 26 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. The two were on opposite sidelines for the annual FSU-Clemson matchups but now are together in Houston.
“He’s a great teammate, even greater leader and a great guy,” Johnson said. “I love to play with him. His poise and his confidence is like none other I’ve ever seen. The plays he makes are unreal. I’m glad that he’s on my team.”
In NFL playoff games on Saturday, running back Dalvin Cook and defensive back Xavier Rhodes will suit up for Minnesota. On Sunday, Johnson and the Texans will take on a Chiefs roster that includes offensive lineman Cameron Erving and defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. In the last of the four divisional round games, linebacker Dekoda Watson is on the Seattle roster.
Saturday, Jan. 11
Vikings at 49ers, 4:35 p.m. (NBC)
Titans at Ravens, 8:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Jan. 12
Texans at Chiefs, 3:05 p.m. (CBS)
Seahawks at Packers, 6:40 p.m. (Fox)
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