Andre Johnson at Texans camp

ByTania Ganguli ESPN logo
Friday, July 25, 2014

HOUSTON -- Before the Texans' morning meeting started, a playful, slow clap began and grew into a standing ovation for the man they missed all spring.

Veteran receiver Andre Johnson was back.

"I just love playing the game of football," Johnson said Friday at Houston's facility, one day before the opening of training camp. "Being here, being around my teammates, there's nothing like being around that."

Asked if he wanted to finish his career in Houston, Johnson said: "That's my plan."

Johnson reported for training camp after skipping both the team's voluntary offseason workouts and their mandatory minicamp. He declined to say whether he was given any assurances of a new contract, but said he spoke with "everyone upstairs" and feels comfortable with the team's direction after it finished 2-14 last season.

"Since [Bill O'Brien] became the head coach [in the offseason], we had great dialogue," Johnson said. "Having phone conversations, different things like that. Just from the way he explained [the offense] to me, it seems like it's going to be a lot of fun. It'll be a little bit different for me. It'll be a little challenge as far as me learning things. It's different from what we've been doing in the past. It's a challenge, but I think it'll be fun.

"I feel very comfortable with where the organization is going," he added. "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. Like I said, talking to Bill this offseason and the conversations me and him have had is all been positive."

Johnson first expressed his frustrations publicly about the team's plight during a charity event in May. Johnson said then that the losing seasons he's been part of since being taken with the third overall pick in the 2003 draft were wearing on him and that he wasn't sure if Houston was the right place for him anymore.

Since selecting Johnson, Houston has had only three winning seasons. Johnson has made the Pro Bowl seven times.

Throughout his absence this offseason, though, Johnson remained in contact with O'Brien.

"The whole atmosphere, just being here the past few hours is totally different than it has been in the past," Johnson said Friday. "Guys are excited. The atmosphere is more upbeat probably than it's ever been. This staff that came in just brought a winning attitude. They make you feel like you can go out and do that. They're giving us the confidence that we can go out and do what we're supposed to do. It's been all positive so far."

Comments he heard from fans around town also have been positive, Johnson said. He said he supposes people reserved negative thoughts for when he wasn't within earshot.

Nonetheless, he believes Houston is his home.

"Nobody ever thought Jerry Rice would wear another uniform. ... A lot of times you have no control over that," he said. "I understand the business part of it. If everything works out in a perfect world, I hope this is the only place I play. ... It'll be great, I think it'll be fun, I think it'll be great for fans, for the city. Great for me and my family."

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