|It's only August, but Texans' receiver Johnson focused on playoffs|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 05 August 2007 21:39|
He wants to lead the Houston Texans to their first playoff appearance.
It's time, he says, and this year that's the only thing that matters to the Pro Bowl receiver.
``No more excuses,'' he said. ``We've been in this system. We can't make excuses about nothing no more, you just have to go out and play.''
Johnson, who joined the Texans after their first season, has been one of the only consistent bright spots in what has been a dismal return to NFL football in Houston.
The 26-year-old former Miami standout has amassed 3,953 yards receiving with 17 touchdowns in his career despite dealing with almost constant double teams as the Texans have never had a second legitimate receiving threat.
Johnson had 103 catches for 1,147 yards, both career highs, in Houston's 6-10 season in 2006 to earn his second Pro Bowl nod.
But trying to outdo himself this season is the last thing on his mind.
``I may not have 100 catches this year,'' he said. ``That's not my big thing. My big thing is winning. I really don't care about all the catches and all the accolades. I want to win. That's why I play this game.''
The Texans believe they upgraded their offense with the addition of well-regarded but unproven former Falcons backup Matt Schaub and running back Ahman Green. And to be sure, Johnson is excited about his new quarterback, but that's not the main reason for his optimism.
``It feels a lot different,'' he said. ``If you look at this team right now, everybody expects a lot from each other. It's a totally, totally different atmosphere from the first few years I was here.''
Part of the reason for that could be the change at quarterback. When the Texans released David Carr after trading for Schaub in March, many criticized the former No. 1 pick for not being enough of a leader.
Johnson never spoke critically of Carr when he was in Houston and refuses to dump on him now that he's gone. But he did talk about how it disgusted him when some of his teammates in past seasons didn't seem to care as the losses piled up.
``Yeah it did, but you can't control what other guys think,'' he said. ``Some of my former teammates from school told me ... some guys just play to collect a check. But looking at this team right now, I don't think anyone has that mentality.''
For a player that rarely had to deal with losing in college, the sting of constant disappointment was sometimes tough to take. Johnson said the low point came in Houston's 2-14 season in 2005.
``You sit down and think about it and you do wonder ... when are things going to get better? But in order for things to get better, I have to expect more from myself and we have to expect more from each other,'' he said.
The Texans didn't make any major moves to upgrade the receivers around Johnson in the offseason, but they did add some depth by signing Keenan McCardell, Andre' Davis and Bethel Johnson. Houston also drafted small-school product Jacoby Jones in the third round.
``All those guys can go out and make plays,'' Johnson said. ``There's a lot of competition at this spot. This is the best group of receivers that we've had since I have been here.''
Despite all the new faces at the position, second-year Texan Kevin Walter will likely start opposite Johnson. Walter hasn't made much of an impact in four NFL seasons, but coach Gary Kubiak thinks this could be a big year for him.
Walter welcomes the competition around him at camp.
``Competition makes everyone better, and the way I look at it is we are all going to get better and my mind-set is to come in here each day and be the best player I can possibly be,'' he said. ``I don't worry too much about other players.''