According to the Houston Chronicle, the five-time Pro Bowler will line up against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Johnson has twice been forced out of action by hamstring injuries, missing seven games between early October and late November, and more recently sitting out three games after re-aggravating the previous strain.
Said Houston head coach Gary Kubiak of Johnson's expected return:
“When they tell me he can go, he’s going. It’s been a process. They’ve been working with him off the field, trying to get him ready to turn him over to me and put him on the field. … If it happens, it’ll be early next week.”
Houston's aerial attack has struggled in Johnson's absence, with Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart and now TJ Yates finding little rhythm or breathing room among the Texans' remaining receivers.
Johnson's success upon returning is hardly guaranteed, though. Hamstring strains as severe as Johnson's tend to be rather tricky to deal with, and with the Texans already relegated to the third seed in the AFC, it's unlikely that they'll push Johnson too hard.
Still, from a fantasy perspective, Johnson is a solid play, assuming you're still alive in your league. Johnson nabbed four passes for 97 yards in his last outing and comes ready with a solid history of success against Tennessee, having caught at least one touchdown pass in his last five outings opposite the Titans.
UPDATE: Friday, Dec. 30 at 1:20 p.m. EST by Mike Chiari
Texans' wide receiver Andre Johnson, who has been plagued by a pair of hamstring injuries, appears as though he is in line to play against the Tennessee Titans in Week 17. According to the Texans' official Twitter feed, head coach Gary Kubiak is optimistic that Johnson will suit up.
Seeing as the Texans have already clinched the AFC South, there isn't much reason for Johnson to push it too much. Because of that I think he will be integrated back into the offense for a few series so he is ready for the playoffs. Because of that, I wouldn't endorse starting him in fantasy this weekend.
UPDATE: Monday, December 26th at 6:30 p.m. EST
Andre Johnson appears to be on track to return in time for the Texans' game against the Titans on Sunday. Gary Kubiak spoke about Johnson's status to the media after Houston's practice on Monday:
“He did practice today. We came inside because of the weather, but he did participate in practice and our expectations are for him to be back on the field on Wednesday, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Johnson was similarly noncommittal about whether or not he'll play on Sunday:
“I felt pretty good, just glad to be back out running around a little bit with my teammates. Just taking it day by day. Today went good. We have a day off tomorrow. I’ll come in and do some rehab and go at it again on Wednesday and see how I feel.”
While neither coach nor player would say for certain whether Johnson would be available or not, the fact that he's expected back on the practice field by Wednesday is a great sign for Texans fans and fantasy football owners alike. The team will have a much clearer picture of where Johnson is and whether he's fit to play on Wednesday. If all goes well then, expect to see Johnson back on the field catching passes from TJ Yates in the season finale.
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