Texans' Romeo Crennel explains Lonnie Johnson Jr.'s move from cornerback to safety


HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- Second-year defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. is primarily playing safety because of his body type and propensity to deliver big hits.

At 6’2”, 214 pounds, Johnson is big for a cornerback, but has the perfect size for a safety.

Texans interim head coach, who was the defensive coordinator in Johnson’s rookie season, said Johnson is making progress at safety and is enjoying his time learning the position.

There is more communication and opportunity for a safety to see the field, as opposed to covering a wide receiver man-to-man.

“He is a big corner and sometimes big corners are not as fleet of foot -- quickness and change of direction -- as some of those smaller corners are,” Crennel said Wednesday. “And then we kind of felt like with his body type, he might fit better at safety and might help us more there, and so we decided to move him to safety. He’s enjoying it. He’s really working to learn what it takes to be a safety. I think he likes to hit and he’s able to do that from that safety spot. So it’s going good for him.”

The Texans drafted Johnson as a cornerback from the University of Kentucky in the second round (54th overall) of the 2019 draft.

Johnson played corner for the Texans last season, but sometimes struggled in coverage. He was always physical, though. It’s for that and his size, the Texans assigned him to cover Travis Kelce at times during the AFC Divisional game last season.

Against the Titans, Johnson played 47 percent of the Texans’ defensive snaps at safety. He played a season-high 83 percent of the defensive snaps in their win against the Jaguars.

Johnson was expected to see more snaps after the injury to safety A.J. Moore, defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver said at the time.

Before the season started, Johnson made it clear he’s comfortable moving positions.

“I play DB for the Texans. I just don’t play corner,” Johnson said in August. “I can do a lot of things, so I just play DB for the Texans. That’s just my title.”