Johnson appeared in all 16 games, finishing with 112 receptions for a career-high 1,598 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
At 31 years old and coming off a season in which he only appeared in seven games because of a nagging hamstring injury, many thought Johnson was on the decline. However, with a lack of depth at receiver, Matt Schaub and the Texans had to depend on Johnson throughout the season and he came through.
In what was his 10th year in the NFL, Johnson was selected to his sixth Pro Bowl, was named an All-Pro for the fifth time and led the AFC in receiving yards for the third time. Overall he was second to only Calvin Johnson, who set a new single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards.
It’s hard to imagine a receiver sustaining this level of production into his mid-30s, but if healthy, Johnson is capable of it.
His strong work ethic and dedication to the game are factors that will help him continue to perform at a an elite level. Schaub touched on this earlier in the season when speaking with Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com, regarding Johnson’s push for 10,000 career receiving yards.
It’s the ultimate to have a receiver like Andre, who not only has all of the physical tools to be one of the best receivers to ever play, but the work ethic to go with it. The mentality that he brings every day to the stadium and to practice and in the meeting rooms, it’s hard to find at that position.
There are also the little things that Johnson does well. For example, he hasn’t had a fumble in the last two years and he’s never fumbled more than once in a single season. Johnson’s size and strength allow him to be effective after the catch as well.
Texans fans can also find comfort knowing that a few other receivers have recently had significant success in their early- to mid-30s.
At age 34 Reggie Wayne had 1,355 receiving yards this season, matching his total from 2010, his last year with Peyton Manning. Steve Smith, now 33 years old, has recorded consecutive 1,100-plus yard receiving seasons, while also adding a combined 11 touchdown catches in that time. Let’s not forget about Marvin Harrison, Donald Driver and Terrell Owens, who all put up big numbers until at least age 34 or 35.
With that in mind, the Texans may select a wide receiver in the upcoming draft to add some depth at the position and build for the future. Houston’s young receivers should begin to take a little pressure off Johnson in the coming years. However, Johnson should still record close to 100 receptions in each of the next couple seasons unless something changes drastically in the offense.
Andre Johnson will likely be remembered as the greatest player to suit up for the Houston Texans in their young history. And, on top of that, Johnson should be remembered as one of the best to ever play the wide receiver position in the NFL.
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