HOUSTON (AP) -The Houston Texans hope Kevin Walter will become the receiver they've long looked for to take pressure off Andre Johnson.
Walter, who spent his first three seasons in Cincinnati, hasn't made much of an impact in four NFL seasons. But coach Gary Kubiak believes this could be his breakout year.
``I think what you're looking at right there is a player that earned the right to play,'' Kubiak said. ``I went back and watched our film and it felt like if I gave Kevin Walter more chances to make plays, we win a few more games. That's what he is.''
Walter appeared in each game last season with two starts and finished with 17 receptions for 160 yards.
Johnson made the Pro Bowl for the second time last season after catching 103 passes for 1,147 yards, both career highs. He played opposite veteran Eric Moulds, who was released in the offseason.
Kubiak has been talking Walter up throughout the offseason, and he believes the 25-year-old has a positive attitude his young team needs.
``He's an overachiever, a tremendous worker,'' Kubiak said. ``His teammates can count on him. He's going to win out because of his work ethic in the long haul, and that's what we want around here.''
Walter isn't daunted by Kubiak's expectations.
``I have a high standard for myself,'' Walter said Thursday. ``I'm glad to get the opportunity. I'm glad he thinks that I deserve a chance to play and make some plays.''
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound player has already made an impression on new quarterback Matt Schaub.
``Kevin's done a great job. He's a go-getter,'' Schaub said. ``He wants to get better. He's a guy you want on your side. He knows his stuff and he's really coming along.''
While Walter is the front-runner, there are other candidates for the spot, including free-agent acquisition Andre Davis and rookie Jacoby Jones.
Davis had three solid years with Cleveland but didn't see much playing time since in a season in both New England and Buffalo.
The Texans drafted Jones in the third round out of Division II Lane College and believe the former track star has potential, but he'll have to overcome his small college background.
``He is all over the map right now,'' Kubiak said. ``He's made a few plays and he's got a few chewing outs, too. He's getting a great opportunity to help our football team. He's very talented.''
The Texans could also use the speedster to return kicks as Jerome Mathis, who made the Pro Bowl at returner as a rookie in 2005, continues to struggle with injuries. Jones finished with a school-record 1,937 kickoff return yards at Lane.
But Jones is still adjusting to the demands of the NFL, Kubiak said.
``He gets frustrated, but he's got to realize it's not going to be easy and that's what we're trying to teach him right now,'' Kubiak said. ``But he definitely fits in out here and it's exciting to see.''
Jones realized quickly that one of the best ways to learn is to follow Johnson's lead.
``That guy is amazing,'' Jones said. ``You see he's that big and can move like that and run routes like that. I steal some of his things, but don't tell him that. I'm trying to steal his knowledge.''
Johnson has been impressed by Jones and fellow rookie receivers Terry Richardson and Onrea Jones. Johnson takes helping younger players seriously because he didn't really have anyone to look up to when he was drafted by the Texans in just their second year in 2003.
All three crowded around Johnson at practice Thursday as he pointed out certain plays and gave them pointers.
``All three of them have a lot of talent,'' Johnson said. ``They ask questions trying to learn things because they don't get many reps, so we just try to help them out as much as possible. Any question they ask, I try to tell them what to do or just try to help them out as much as possible.''

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