|Johnson's outstanding October propels Houston|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 30 October 2008 08:55|
``Hey man, you need to stop,'' read the warning from Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne.
It was a combination of congratulations and teasing from a friend. But Wayne and the rest of Houston's upcoming opponents would probably prefer Johnson to stop, or at least slow down, as his sizzling streak has the Texans' offense moving better than ever.
Johnson, the AFC offensive player of the month, had 41 receptions for 593 yards in the last four games and leads the NFL with 772 yards receiving. If his frenetic pace continues against Minnesota on Sunday, the sixth-year player will make NFL history.
He needs one more 130-yard game to become the first player with five straight games above the mark. With 10 or more receptions in each of the last three games, he needs one more such day to set a record in that category.
ecause when you worry about those things it kind of takes away from the game,'' Johnson said.
Added coach Gary Kubiak: ``Those things are special, but I can tell you his No. 1 thing he wants to do is win. He's an unselfish player and he makes everybody better around him.''
His recent play has certainly made Houston's offense better. The Texans' 371.6 yards a game are fourth in the NFL and their 253.1 yards passing rank fifth.
They are tied for the league lead with 22.7 first downs a game, and Sunday's 29-point victory over the Bengals was the largest winning margin in franchise history. Houston has shaken off an 0-4 start to win a single-season franchise-best three straight games.
Matt Schaub has rebounded from a tough early stretch thanks in part to Johnson's work. Schaub had four touchdowns and five interceptions in Houston's first three games, but has six touchdowns and two interceptions in the last three. The attention paid to Johnson has also helped free up Kevin Walter, who's set a career high with five touchdowns.
Johnson is excited Houston has finally become ``the offense that I knew we could be.''
Kubiak and the Texans have helped Johnson's effectiveness by moving him around in the last few games to combat defenses whose main plan is to shut him down.
``He's responded to that,'' Kubiak said. ``He responds to the mental pressure we put on him to get him open.''
joined the Texans as the third pick out of Miami in their second season in 2003, and has often been the lone bright spot in the miserable seasons that followed. He's had two 1,100-yard seasons and gained 851 yards last year despite missing seven games with a knee injury.
Johnson's combination of size (6-foot-3, 223 pounds), speed and attitude puts him one the list of the league's top receivers. But his quiet demeanor, lack of theatrics and team-first mentality hasn't done much for his popularity outside of Houston.
You'll never see him doing an end-zone dance, screaming at his quarterback or whining about not getting enough catches. That he says, has led people to come to interesting conclusions about him.
``I've heard different things,'' he said. ``People ask: 'Do I even talk? Why am I so quiet? Do I ever say anything?' I've always been that way. When I'm around people I don't really know very well I tend to sit and observe before I really say anything.''
Teammates and coaches love Johnson's quiet confidence. Close friend and Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson, who says facing Johnson in practice each day makes him better, admires the way Johnson conducts himself.
. He wants to be recognized the right way. He's not a player that thinks he's bigger than the game.''
Johnson will never forget the blessing it was to make it out of his tough Miami neighborhood, where he saw childhood friends fall victim to crime and violence. Even as a young boy he knew he'd play for the Hurricanes and then in the NFL and is thankful every day that his plan worked out.
If he forgets, even for a second, he only has to think of two of the scores of tattoos that adorn his body - each with a different but equally important meaning. Those two tattoos are emblazoned down the back of the long, muscular arms he's used to reach his goals. On the left in elaborate cursive letters is 'Truly' and on the right 'Blessed.'
``It's amazing to have a childhood dream and it's all worked out for you,'' he said. ``It's very rare where a guy sets out a plan or says what he wants to do and everything he wanted to do has happened. I feel like I've been very blessed.''
Johnson knows not everyone in his situation takes advantage of their gifts. After dropping two would-be touchdown passes against Tennessee and gaining just 38 yards the following week in a loss to Jacksonville, a frustrated Johnson vowed to turn things around.
want to be one of the best receivers to play the game. I knew that I had to step my game up and I feel like that's what I've been doing the past few weeks.''
Texans owner Bob McNair agrees and called Johnson's recent play ``spectacular.''
``He's playing the best football he's ever played,'' McNair said. ``I think his focus is better - his level of concentration. He seems to have been able to pick it up a notch and it's showing in his performance.''