NCAA

Texans WR Johnson asks teammates to push for more

201212071152427782705-p2.jpeg

Texans WR Johnson asks teammates to push for more

HOUSTON (AP) Andre Johnson sometimes has to tell his teammates how lucky they are to be on one of the NFL's best teams.

For years, Johnson languished on terrible Texans teams. Now, the star receiver shares stories of the tough times, a reminder to appreciate this season and keep working for more.

Johnson is the only player currently with Houston (11-1) remaining from its franchise-worst 2-14 season in 2005.

``Enjoy this part of it, because the times that I went through, that's something you don't ever want to experience,'' he said he tells his teammates of that season. ``The season was super long. There were times I didn't want to get up and come to work. It's hard because you come in and you're working your (tail) off, and you just can't get the job done.''

Johnson has 1,114 yards receiving to bounce back from an injury-filled 2011 season where he had a career-low 492 yards.

He probably appreciates where the Texans are now better than anyone. Johnson joined the team after being drafted in the first round in 2003, and went through eight seasons of missing the playoffs in a stretch with just one winning season.

There were times he thought about playing elsewhere, but he forced himself to think about the big picture.

``You find out a lot about yourself, if you're going to be loyal or if you're just going to run away from it,'' he said. ``My thing was I wanted to stay. I wanted to be a part of something special. I wanted to help this organization to where it is right now and even help it achieve more.''

When Houston finally made the postseason for the first time last year, the moment was bittersweet for the five-time Pro Bowler because he missed a career-high nine games with various injuries.

``I was excited, but at the same time I was down because you're just like: `Man, I know I could be out there helping the team,''' he said. ``Those would be the times that I would kind of get down on myself and try do things and hope that I could hurry up and come back.''

Johnson had a groin injury in training camp, and that combined with his age (31) and the nagging injuries that slowed him for a good chunk of last season had some wondering if he could still be an elite receiver.

He had 119 yards receiving in Houston's opener, but didn't crack 100 yards again until Week 9. It was then that Johnson said he was finally starting to feel like himself again, and two weeks later he showed just that.

Johnson grabbed 14 passes for 273 yards - both career-highs - and the winning touchdown in Houston's 43-37 overtime win against Jacksonville. He followed that performance with 188 yards receiving a week later.

He's been so good this season than even those who have watched him for years have been left shaking their heads.

``Every day is a marvel,'' offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said when asked about Johnson. ``To me, it's amazing to see somebody work that hard and do that many things because usually you break down or a guy will ask for a day off, but he never does that. I think that's very, very impressive about Andre.''

Matt Schaub, who joined the Texans in 2007, said just when he thinks he's seen the best from Johnson, he'll outdo himself. Schaub values Johnson's leadership to the team, and said he can't overstate what he's meant to him individually.

``(He's) the ultimate security blanket,'' Schaub said. ``I know as a quarterback if push comes to shove and we need a play, I know I'm going to go his direction. We see all types of coverages. I'll still go his way because I know he's going to make a play on the football.''

Johnson is the most soft-spoken and least talkative player on the team. That hasn't stopped him from being the most important leaders of the squad. But being a leader isn't something that is all that comfortable to Johnson, although he does appreciate that younger players look up to him.

``I've just always been the guy that tries to lead by example,'' he said. ``It's crazy. You'd be surprised at who pays attention to you. I think when you go out and do the right things as a player and just be yourself and be successful at what you do, guys tend to look toward you and come to you for advice and things like that.''

Houston has already clinched its second straight playoff berth, but Johnson is quick to point out that these are not the Texans of old, and they're looking for a lot more than simply reaching the playoffs this season.

Johnson needs 86 yards to reach 1,200 yards receiving for the fourth time in his career when the Texans meet the Patriots on Monday night in what Johnson's calls the biggest game in franchise history.

``We still have goals that we have to accomplish,'' he said. ``I think as long as we keep winning, every game is going to get bigger and bigger. When you've been somewhere you've never been before, everything gets bigger.''

NOTES: Cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, was limited in practice on Friday and coach Gary Kubiak said they'll make a decision on if he'll play in the next couple of days. But Joseph said he expects to play. ``I'm good to go, I don't know a percentage, but I feel like I'm better than ever actually,'' he said. ``So I'm good to go Monday.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Former Maryland DL Mojo Rawley tells Mike Locksley how the Gronkowski brothers got him into WWE

Former Maryland DL Mojo Rawley tells Mike Locksley how the Gronkowski brothers got him into WWE

With Wrestlemania 36 underway this weekend, Maryland football coach Mike Locksley sat down on Instagram Live with former Terps defensive lineman and current WWE superstar Mojo Rawley to talk about his new career path. 

Rawley's real name is Dean Muhtadi, and he played for the Terps in for two years as a Division III transfer. He finished third on team in sacks that season and despite going undrafted in 2009, found his way to an NFL camp with the Packers. 

Muhtadi spent 2009 with Green Bay and 2010 with the Cardinals before suffering an injury that landed him on injured reserve. It was then where Muhtadi found a new career path thanks to two of his best friends. 

"Dan Gronkowski and Chris Gronkowski played with me at Maryland, two of my closest friends," Rawley said on "Late Night With Locks". "Their dad was one of our coach's roommates in the WWE, so it seemed like a natural fit. We were watching together, and I kinda made a comment like, 'this would be awesome if I could be one of [the wrestlers]. Mr. Gronk made the call and the rest was history."

Rawley has been a WWE superstar and currently stands as Rob Gronkowski's hype man. The former Patriots tight end is WWE's most recent signee and is Wrestlemania 36's host.

MORE NCAA NEWS: 

The Rock's cheat day, what the Watt brothers are up to, Marcus Stroman get his reps in

The Rock's cheat day, what the Watt brothers are up to, Marcus Stroman get his reps in

First up in Saturday's round-up of the best sports moments on the internet, everyone is trying to stick to as normal of a routine as they can while at home. Quarantine wasn’t going to keep Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock” away from his “cheat day”. Have you ever seen french toast this big in your life? 


Next up, the Watt brothers have been staying in shape working out together and they even have a football field coming soon. Check out JJ Watt painting the lines. He says he has a new respect for groundskeepers now. The stage is set for the Watt brothers!


Finally, no bullpen, no problem! Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman sets up a makeshift bullpen on his boat dock and it even has a mound. Now that is a beautiful place to get your reps in! 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE IN THE LOOP: