All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson returned to the Texans’ fold Thursday, sounding chastened after missing the team’s first three voluntary organized team activities and seemingly suggesting he had no plans to skip future OTAs or training camp practices, no matter how dissatisfied he may be about his contract.
“I didn’t feel right being at home,” Johnson said. “I never miss OTAs. I’ve always been here, so I came in. I’m man enough to say that it was (out of character for him to be a no-show). I’m disappointed about it. I talked to everybody (in Texans’ management). There are no grudges and I don’t have any grudges toward them. We’re just going to move on.
“You can’t win against the organization. When you’re under contract, they can hold you to it. It’s up to them to re-do it, give you an extension or whatever. They really don’t have to do anything. But I’m past all that now. I’m here working and I’m going to continue to work and hopefully we can achieve our goal of getting to the playoffs and winning the super Bowl.
“I plan on being a Texan until the day I retire.”
The 28-year-old Johnson, the Texans’ first draft choice in 2003, has made the Pro Bowl three of the last four seasons. But, long before he posted back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons in 2008 and 2009 while catching 226 passes, he signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in March 2007. He has always been represented by his uncle Andre Melton, who isn’t a certified agent.
Owner Bob McNair also met with the press afterwards to discuss the situation. He said the team was willing to hear Johnson out. They spoke for the first time Wednesday.
“Andre came to see me and wanted to assure me that he loved being a Texan and that he’s a team player, that nothing has changed,” McNair said. “I told him we just missed having him out here and that we wanted him out here.
“With any of our players, if they’ve got something they want to talk about, we’re always willing to sit down and review their situation . . . help them understand what the team’s obligations and parameters are. There are some things we can do and some things we can’t.
“Andre’s a special player so, of course, we’ll listen. We’ll see what’s bothering him, where he’s coming from, and then see if something can be done.”
McNair, however, said he wouldn’t personally participate in any process that might lead to a re-structuring of Johnson’s deal.
“I don’t do any negotiations,” he said. “(General manager) Rick Smith handles that.”
While Smith didn’t make himself available for comment, head coach Gary Kubiak said: “It’s great to have him back. Andre’s been the heart and soul of this football team for a long time. I’m not worried about Andre. He’ll be ready to play. Nobody works harder than him.
“But you’ve got to understand there’s about 30 new faces out here who know he is but didn’t see him in the locker room the last few days That’s really important. The energy just picked up today.”