Johnson 'comfortable' with team direction

Johnson 'comfortable' with team direction
July 25, 2014, 11:15 am
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Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (80) makes a reception during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Reliant Stadium.

(USA Today Sports Images)

Will Andre Johnson finish his career as a Texan?

I feel very comfortable with where the organization is going.
—-- Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson is back. And the face of the Texans’ franchise appears content with the way the organization is heading.

At least that’s what he said on Friday when he reported to training camp with the rest of his veteran teammates.

Johnson, 33, didn't attend any of the team's spring workouts after voicing his frustration in May. Back then, he said his frustration stemmed from losing, something the Texans have done plenty during his time in Houston.

“I feel very comfortable with where the organization is going,” Johnson said on Friday inside NRG Stadium. “I think a lot of what I said in the offseason had to do with things that have happened over the past eight, nine years or so. But like I said, talking to Bill (O’Brien) this offseason and the conversations that me and him have had, it’s all been positive.”

During his 11 seasons in Houston, the Texans have been to the playoffs just twice and have had just three winning seasons. The Texans went 2-14 (worst in the league) in 2013 and fired their head coach and most of the coaching staff.  

Was there anything specifically that changed his mind on the organizational direction?

“I just think over time you see the way things have went,” he said. “Sometimes when you voice your opinion about things, sometimes you don’t feel like you’re heard. It gets frustrating. After what happened last year, we went 2-14 and things like that, it wasn’t only frustrating for me; I understand it was frustrating for everybody. Everybody has a right to feel the way they feel. I felt the way I felt. It is what it is but none of that really matters now because I’m here so I think that’s all that matters.”

When asked if the team gave him any assurances to get him into camp, Johnson said he would keep the conversations between him and the front office private.

"I just love playing the game of football," Johnson said first after sauntering to the podium in NRG Stadium on Friday. “Being here, being around my teammates, there's nothing like being around that. So I talked to everyone upstairs, like I said I keep what we talked about between me and them. That's pretty much it.”

Johnson has had several conversations with head coach Bill O’Brien throughout the offseason. O’Brien previously called those conversations “positive” and Johnson echoed that sentiment on Friday, also saying the conversations between the two were “very meaningful.”

"I felt like he was straight up with me," Johnson said about O'Brien. “He told me what his plans were. The more we talked, the more comfortable I got.”

Johnson said he's excited about playing in the new offense. He also said he didn't have a playbook the entire spring while he wasn't with the team so it’ll be up to the seven-time Pro Bowler to learn the playbook and grow familiarity with starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during training camp.

The Texans signed Fitzpatrick in the offseason and named him the starter during the spring after the team didn’t draft a quarterback with the first overall pick, instead electing to take Jadeveon Clowney.

The Texans didn’t take a quarterback until the fourth round and many speculated the team’s not taking a quarterback first was another reason for Johnson’s spring holdout but the wideout said he had “bigger concerns.”

Johnson has three years left on his contract and has a salary cap hit of $15,644,583 in 2014. He lost a $1 million bonus for missing the spring practices.

Johnson is clearly the best player in franchise history. He leads the franchise in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He’s one of two players in NFL history to have four seasons with 100 receptions and 1,400 yards receiving.

Although he’s now well into his 30s, Johnson remains a huge key to the team’s success this season. As orchestrated by running back Arian Foster, Johnson’s teammates gave him a standing ovation before a team meeting on Friday.

“Everybody was excited to see me,” Johnson said. “I was just as excited to see them as they were to see me. It's the first time I've been away from my team as long as I have. It was a little different but it is what it is. Now I'm ready to work and ready to go.”