Johnson wants to finish career with Texans
HOUSTON (AP) — Andre Johnson wants to finish his career in Houston and has moved past whatever bad feelings kept him away from the team for much of this offseason.
Johnson, who is in his 12th season, isn’t sure how long he’ll play. But he knows that he only wants to suit up for the Texans.
“I don’t want to play for nobody else ... I don’t even think it would feel right,” he said.
That’s a change from an offseason where he wondered if Houston “was still the place for me” before skipping all of the team’s offseason work. He returned in time for training camp and certainly doesn’t feel that way anymore.
“I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to put on another uniform,” he said Thursday.
Johnson was drafted in the first round in 2003 in the franchise’s second season and he’s by far the longest tenured player on the team. Despite dealing with years of lean times, which have included two 2-14 seasons, and more than his fair share of quarterback woes, Johnson is still confident that things will end well for him here.
“Yeah, why not?” Johnson said with a chuckle and a shake of his head. “You always want it to turn out OK. I always want things to work out here. I’ve always wanted that.”
But at 33, Johnson has started wondering just how many years he has left to play. In moments of quiet reflection he sometimes thinks about the career of his idol Jerry Rice and marvels at how long he was able to play.
“You see something on TV, like watching the NFL Network and you see a clip of Jerry Rice or something,” Johnson said. “And you sit there and you’re just like: ‘Man this guy played for 20 years and I’m in my 12th year. How did he play eight more years?’ I can’t imagine myself playing for eight more seasons. I just can’t see that happening.”
But he wasn’t ready to completely rule it out on Thursday, perhaps buoyed by Houston’s win against Tennessee on Sunday where the Texans set a franchise record with 45 points.
“I wouldn’t say never, but right now I just can’t imagine that,” Johnson said.
When he was younger his goal was to play for 10 seasons. After he passed that number, he decided 15 years might be a good time to hang it up. Now that he’s in his 30s, he’s gotten a kick out of helping mentor younger players and has taken a special interest in DeAndre Hopkins, a first-round pick last season.
“It’s fun just to see him grow as a player, even grow as a person,” Johnson said. “He’s learning and I think that’s the biggest thing. Every day he is in here working his butt off. I get to sit back and watch it.”
Hopkins has more than 1,000 yards receiving this season and said that there isn’t anything Johnson hasn’t helped him with.
“Everything and all of the above,” Hopkins said.
Though Hopkins is slowly taking over as Houston’s go-to receiver, Johnson is still producing at a high level and has 65 receptions for 720 yards and two touchdowns this year. It’s another solid season in a career where he has had 1,100 yards receiving or more seven times, including a career-high 1,598 in 2012.
He has 13,381 yards receiving in his career, just two yards shy of eclipsing Torry Holt for 12th on the all-time list. Johnson could also reach another milestone on Sunday at Jacksonville, needing just eight catches to become the 10th player in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions.
“It will be big when it happens,” Johnson said. “Not many people have been able to do it. To be in that category, it will mean a lot.”
If he does it on Sunday he would tie Marvin Harrison for fastest to reach the mark by doing it in his 167th career game.