|Houston receivers flourish with Andre Johnson ailing|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 00:35|
He doesn't get that reaction anymore.
In the five games Johnson has missed with a sprained knee, the Texans have completed more passes (132) than any team in the NFL and their 1,426 yards passing in that span rank second in the league.
``I said a long time ago we had a lot of guys that can make plays and when I said that some people looked at it kind of crazy,'' said Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowler. ``Now that some injuries happened and they had a chance to get out on the field, they showed people what they can do.''
Kevin Walter said the receivers sat down and talked about what they needed to do with their top playmaker out indefinitely.
``We said from the get-go when Andre got hurt, we needed to pick up the slack,'' Walter said. ``He's one of the best receivers in this league and with him going down, we knew we all needed to step up. Not one of us was going to take over what he did. He's his own guy. We all needed to come together and do well.''
That's just what they've done.
Walter, who has started each game this season, leads the team with 33 catches for 435 yards. In seven games, the fifth-year player already has more than twice the yardage than in any other year.
Houston's Andre' Davis, who didn't play until Johnson got hurt, has 20 catches for 384 yards. He's emerged as the Texans' deep threat after catching passes of 40 yards or longer in four of his five games.
Davis has been one of the biggest surprises of the season for the Texans after the sixth-year player had just two receptions for 13 yards last year in Buffalo.
Tight end Owen Daniels has become another favorite target of Matt Schaub. His 392 yards receiving are 50 more than he had last season. Second-year player David Anderson has been used in the slot lately with rookie speedster Jacoby Jones out with a shoulder injury. He has added nine catches for 109 yards.
``They've been a huge bright spot of our football team,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. ``You take ... what they've done in the past month, making plays for our football team and giving us opportunities to win.''
Though he always had confidence in the group, even Kubiak acknowledged he was unsure of who would step up with Johnson out.
``You really don't know if guys are taking care of their business in this league or really getting ready to be a starter or a player in this league until they get pushed into a situation,'' he said. ``All of these guys have gotten pushed into a more extensive role and every guy has responded to that role. So that tells you what they're all about.''
Their success has likely been aided by the addition of Schaub, who is in his first year in Houston. The first-time starter, acquired from Atlanta in the offseason, has 1,581 yards passing and a 90.5 rating.
Schaub, who could miss this weekend's game against San Diego with a hip bruise, said he had no doubt the group would be successful.
``It's just how they are,'' he said. ``They're just making plays and they're very consistent and levelheaded in their approach to the game. They just go out and if you give them a chance, they're going to make the plays and we have all the confidence in the world in them.''
Johnson, who has been Houston's only legitimate receiving threat in past seasons, raved about moves general manager Rick Smith has made to improve the group. He returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, but likely won't play this week.
He isn't sure when he'll return, but is looking forward to the possibilities for the passing game when he does.
``I think it just makes it a lot better for when I come back and I'm healthy and we just have a bunch of guys and we can spread the ball around,'' Johnson said.