HOUSTON (AP) -When coach Gary Kubiak was asked about Kevin Walter in May and said Houston would have won more games last season if he'd given the wide receiver more opportunities to make plays, it seemed kind of odd.
This was a receiver who had cracked 200 yards receiving for a season just once in his career. Five months later, Kubiak's remarks seem more on target after Walter's 160-yard performance on Sunday.
``I always believe in hard work - hard work pays off,'' Walter said. ``You have to work hard and opportunities like that will come.''
It was the second-best receiving day in Texans history and equaled Walter's total receiving yards from last season. He spent his first three seasons in Cincinnati, where his best season before this year was 19 catches for 211 yards in 2005.
But Kubiak didn't need to see the big numbers to have confidence in the 26-year-old.
``He was ready for his opportunity, got a chance to play ... and here's a kid who's taken full advantage,'' Kubiak said.
Kubiak has always liked Walter's work ethic and his unselfishness.
``He's one of the first guys here and last guys to leave type of player,'' Kubiak said. ``That's the way he goes about his business. He's an overachiever in this business. Guys like that last a long time.''
The Texans have needed new faces to carry the load at receiver this season since Pro Bowler Andre Johnson has missed the last four games with a knee sprain. The emergence of Walter is encouraging considering Wednesday's news that Johnson will likely be out two more weeks.
He ruled out playing on Sunday and doesn't have a firm date for his return, but said doctors told him when he was injured that it could take up to six weeks to heal.
Walter's 338 yards receiving this season are more than he gained in his first three seasons combined. He appeared in each game last season with two starts and finished with 17 receptions for 160 yards.
He nabbed the starting job opposite Johnson in the offseason after Houston released veteran Eric Moulds and has started each game this year. The Texans have needed a credible receiving threat to take pressure off Johnson and Kubiak has insisted Walter could fill that role.
Johnson agreed with Kubiak and said he knew Walter was capable of playing like he did against Jacksonville.
``He was due for a day like that,'' Johnson said. ``I was just glad to see that happen for him. All the work he's put in, he deserves a day like that.''
Though Walter isn't anywhere close to being a household name, he's well known to Houston's division opponents.
``You could kind of see it coming on last year,'' Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. ``I saw it in games before our second time against them. I saw him make some plays. You could kind of see that he's an emotionally charged, competitive guy that can really catch the ball and knows how to get open.''
Walter said he hopes to improve each week and is looking for his next big game to be a win after Houston lost Sunday's game 37-17.
``All that stuff I did catching those balls and making the yards doesn't mean anything since we lost,'' Walter said. ``I'm happy about making plays, but it comes down to winning and losing so it wasn't as exciting.''
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