According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the seven-time Pro Bowler reported to camp Friday, effectively ending his threats of a holdout:
With Houston's camp opening today, Texans WR Andre Johnson reported to team this morning and already is in its training facility.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 25, 2014
Johnson commented on things from a football perspective, courtesy of CSN's Dave Zangaro and the Texans' Twitter feed:
"I'm gonna play football. I don't plan on walking away from this." Andre Johnson. He says he's "comfortable."— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaro) July 25, 2014
"It's my job to make up for the time that I missed. I'm gonna work my butt off, like I always do." -WR Andre Johnson #Texans— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) July 25, 2014
Texans.com's Deepi Sidhu notes Johnson's relationship with Bill O'Brien:
Johnson says he and O'Brien have had "great dialogue, phone conversations." Expects that new role will be different, challenging, but fun.— Deepi Sidhu (@DeepSlant) July 25, 2014
CSN's Adam Wexler and James Palmer, along with John McClain of the Houston Chronicle report Johnson's feelings about the Texasns organization and his future with the team:
“I feel very comfortable with where the organization is going.” - A. Johnson after asked why he came in after saying losing was the issue.— James Palmer (@JPalmerCSN) July 25, 2014
"This is my home now. I think I've built a great foundation here." Asked if he is he's going to finish career here: "That's the plan"- Andre— AdamWexlerCSN (@awexler) July 25, 2014
Johnson on finishing his career with the Texans "It would be great. Fun for me, the city and my family."— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) July 25, 2014
While Johnson's return to the team didn't technically become official until he came to camp, everything was in place for this to happen since earlier in the week, per NFL.com's Ian Rapoport:
#Texans WR Andre Johnson actually took a physical with the team a few days ago, source said. He passed. He’s ready to go.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 25, 2014
From what I am told, there were no monetary promises to Andre Johnson to get him to report. Sounds like #Texans simply recruited him back.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 25, 2014
Andre Johnson received an “understanding of where Texans are going & of his own future & security,” source says. Hint he’ll be there in 2015— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 25, 2014
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports more on what it took to get Johnson to camp:
Sources say Bob McNair played a key role in getting Andre Johnson to end his holdout and report to Texans today.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) July 25, 2014
CSN's James Palmer has more from a player perspective:
Obviously all of the players I spoke with this offseason said they wanted Andre Johnson back. Several added bc he makes them better players.— James Palmer (@JPalmerCSN) July 25, 2014
Bringing Johnson, 33, back into the fold is a major coup for the Texans considering how frustrated he seemed just a couple of months ago. According to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, the former University of Miami star made it clear that he wants to win:
I just look at my career. ... I've only been to the playoffs twice. I think we've only had three winning seasons. I don't think any player wants to experience that. I think over time it can become very frustrating. And this offseason has been very frustrating for me; beginning of the offseason, I should say. That's just kind of where I'm at right now.
The Texans were surprisingly the worst team in the NFL last season at 2-14 after consecutive playoff appearances. That led to head coach Gary Kubiak and quarterback Matt Schaub's exits. Bill O'Brien, formerly Penn State's head coach, replaced Kubiak, and NFL Network's Albert Breer credits him with getting Johnson back in the picture:
Andre Johnson showing up at NRG stadium on Monday was a significant development, and got the ball rolling. O'Brien has handled this well.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 25, 2014
Although Johnson ultimately wasn't traded and didn't get more money out of the situation, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com doesn't consider it a total loss for No. 80:
Andre Johnson has reported for the start of Texans camp. Smart move. Wasn't going to get dealt. Made his point. Don't risk the real money— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) July 25, 2014
If nothing else, the organization now knows where Johnson stands in terms of his hopes and expectations for the team moving forward. It isn't outside the realm of possibility that Houston will rebound in a big way this year, and Johnson is a vital part of that.
The Texans have plenty of talent to speak of on both sides of the ball. Drafting pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 overall gives Houston a fearsome front seven that also includes J.J. Watt. In addition to that, Johnson is complemented by the likes of running back Arian Foster and wideout DeAndre Hopkins on offense.
The biggest question mark is under center with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. He has had some statistical success as a starter in the past, though, and would certainly benefit from having a target like Johnson. The Texans also have fourth-round rookie Tom Savage out of Pittsburgh on their roster, though O'Brien already named Fitzpatrick the starter.
Johnson has topped 1,000 yards in each of the past six seasons in which he has played at least 13 games. He is coming off a 1,407-yard campaign on a team that was in disarray, so there is no telling what he might do this year now that there is some stability.
Was reporting to training camp the right move for Johnson?
Johnson is still an elite pass-catcher in the league even as he enters his 12th season. It is natural that he is in win-now mode at this juncture of his career, but he also has a long and storied history as a Texan.
He is unquestionably the best player in franchise history, and he is beloved in Houston. Winning anywhere is great, but winning in Houston would be that much sweeter for Johnson.
Now that he is back on board, it is up to the rest of the team to ensure that their stay at the bottom is short-lived.
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