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Texans' top draftee Johnson lets play speak for him

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by Rockets34Legend, May 10, 2003.

  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

    Jun 12, 2002
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    Wide receiver Andre Johnson is a made-to-order rookie in the NFL, a league in which veterans prefer first-year players to be seen but not heard.

    Johnson, the Texans' first-round draft pick, left the University of Miami a year early, but he has a master's degree in this particular area.

    Just ask his position coach at Miami, who sometimes told Johnson to "just go home," after one of his star pupil's office visits turned into another silent session.

    Just ask Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, who was picked to chaperon Johnson on his recruiting visit to Miami.

    "Usually, the guys who are coming to Miami make a whole lot of noise," Wayne said. "Andre didn't say much of anything our whole visit."

    Just ask his uncle and namesake, Andre Melton, who laughed when asked what gets his nephew excited.

    "Nothing," Melton said. "Just winning and working. That's all he wants to do. Oh, he likes to bowl, too."

    Wayne knew Johnson's decision on where to go to school was between his hometown Hurricanes and Southern California. The upperclassman was confident Miami would be the choice, but the question had to be asked, considering how difficult it is to get a read on Johnson.

    "Yeah, man. I'm coming," Johnson said.

    "That's just 'Dre," Wayne said. "He doesn't talk much, except to the guys he knows, and he keeps the answers short."

    Johnson, who will be among the first-year players on the Reliant Park practice fields today when the Texans kick off their three-day rookie minicamp, went to the University of Miami after a standout career at Miami Senior High School. He played quarterback and receiver, and he also lettered in track and basketball.

    Miami receivers coach Curtis Johnson also recruited Marshall Faulk at San Diego State and said Johnson (6-2, 230 pounds) had the same type of athleticism and electricity. The Hurricanes had Wayne and Santana Moss (currently playing with the Jets), so they decided to redshirt Johnson during his first year.

    Nevertheless, it didn't take Curtis Johnson long to realize he had a special talent waiting in the wings, even if it did take the coach awhile to get close to his new project.

    "When I first met him, I thought he had an anger problem," Curtis Johnson said. "Some of the NFL scouts and general managers thought the same thing when they first met him. That's one of the first things that comes to mind when a guy keeps to himself and doesn't talk much. But after I got to know Andre better, I realized that he just doesn't warm up to everybody.

    "Physically, he's such an imposing figure, you would expect him to be more outspoken or maybe a little brash. But you could sit in a room with him for an hour, and he might not say a word."

    Curtis Johnson wasn't on the Miami staff during the college playing days of Michael Irvin, Eddie Brown or Lamar Thomas, but the veteran coach didn't hesitate when asked where Johnson ranks among the receivers he has coached.

    "He's the best one we've had," Curtis Johnson said. "Even Santana and Reggie will tell you that."

    But you won't hear it from Andre Johnson. He's much more concerned with route-running than mouth-running. Johnson said Terrell Owens is the current NFL receiver to whom his skills are most comparable, which would be just fine with Texans quarterback David Carr, considering Owens has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in four of the past five seasons.

    The Texans could be getting Owens without the sideline tirades and public demands for the football. Make no mistake; Johnson wants the ball just as much as any other receiver, but Curtis Johnson said he has a low-key way of asking for it.

    "Occasionally, he would get on the headphones, and in that quiet voice he would say, `CJ, throw me the ball, man. I can beat my guy on the post. Just throw it up, and I'll go get it.' We'd throw it up there, and sure enough, he would go get it," Curtis Johnson said.

    Melton said the fact his nephew is so well-grounded comes from his upbringing. Johnson was raised by a single mother, and although his father was shot to death two years ago, Johnson had not seen him since third grade and hardly knew him. Ask Johnson who is the central male figure in his life, and without hesitation, he'll tell you it's Melton.

    "Andre is my oldest sister's son, but I've always tried to take care of him as if he were my own son," Melton said. "His father was absent, but the whole family was there for him. We're very proud of him. This has always been his dream and his goal.

    "He's had some rough stages in his life; we all do. But we all stuck together and got through them together. It's not over yet. Right now, he has a lot of people tugging at him, and it's my job to keep him focused and to make sure his head is on straight. I'm his buffer."

    Melton also has to be an interpreter at times, correcting those who take his nephew's quiet demeanor the wrong way.

    "Because he doesn't say much, people sometimes think it's because he doesn't understand," Melton said. "That's not the case at all. The guy with the loudest mouth is not always the brightest guy. Andre's game speaks for itself. I prefer that he be silent and deadly."

    Chances are it will take a little time for Johnson to warm up to his new surroundings, but in the meantime he believes his teammates and fans will get the gist of who he is.

    "I'm not a troublemaker or anything like that," Johnson said. "I'm just not a big talker. Some people think me being so quiet is a bad thing because they never know what I'm thinking, but hopefully, once people get to know me, they'll think I'm a great guy to be around."

    Texans summary

    Jitters hit Johnson

    The harshest critic of first-round draft selection Andre Johnson on Friday during the start of the Texans' three-day rookie minicamp: Andre Johnson.

    Johnson, a wide receiver from Miami taken with the No. 3 overall selection in last month's draft, was upset with himself after dropping several passes from quarterback Dave Ragone during the morning practice session.

    "I'm in the NFL now. I have to make some adjustments," Johnson said. "The ball was coming a little faster. You just have to learn. I'm a rookie so I just have to start all over again."

    Johnson admitted to some jitters that made his professional debut feel like the first day of school.

    "If I was back at Miami I would feel a little more comfortable," he said. "My first day out here I wasn't as comfortable as I would be at home. "

    Quarterback David Carr watched Johnson and the other rookies during the morning session.

    Meeting goals

    Over the course of three days this weekend the Texans coaching staff will put the 24 players attending rookie minicamp through a cram session that includes four on-field practices, meetings and required reading of a playbook the size of the Yellow Pages.

    "I suggest that everything you hear over these next three days, you write down," Texans coach Dom Capers told the group during the first team meeting Thursday night.

    Capers said the goals of the minicamp are to indoctrinate the newcomers into the system, teach them team philosophies and begin the evaluation process in preparation for training camp in late July.

    "The big challenge for this group of players is to really stay on top of things mentally," Capers said. "We're going to throw a lot of things at them. I think the biggest transition for a new player is learning how to focus and concentrate through endless meetings. The volume of material they have can be overwhelming at first."

    With a small number of players the coaching staff is also able to devote one-on-one time at various positions. Friday, offensive coordinator Chris Palmer spent most of the time working with quarterback Dave Ragone. Of the group, 16 are on the offensive side.

    After minicamp breaks Sunday, the players will get a week off before joining a roster of about 90 players May 19-22 for the first of five weekly coaching sessions that run through mid-June.

    Walker apologizes

    Texans coach Dom Capers said Friday he has spoken with second-year safety Ramon Walker about his arrest at a local nightclub this month and no further discipline action would be taken.

    Walker, a fifth-round draft selection in 2002, was arrested and charged with public intoxication and criminal trespass May 3 at a nightclub along Richmond Avenue.

    "I feel satisfied with what he told me, that he made an error," Capers said. "He understands the responsibility that comes along with being a Houston Texan and he certainly apologized to me and told me it won't happen again."

    Be like Mike

    Another Stensrud took the field wearing a Houston jersey Friday. Offensive tackle Andy Stensrud, son of Mike Stensrud, is among the 24 players participating in this weekend's rookie camp.

    Mike Stensrud played for the Oilers from 1979-85.

    "I've talked to my dad but I want to try and make a name for myself," said Stensrud, who has played in NFL Europe and was cut in training camp last year by the New York Giants. "It's a little weird. I'm glad I've got a shot down here. I love the city."
    #1 Rockets34Legend, May 10, 2003
    Last edited: May 10, 2003
  2. BmwM3

    BmwM3 Contributing Member

    May 19, 2002
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    I can't wait to see him play!!
  3. ILuvEddie33

    ILuvEddie33 Member

    Mar 21, 2003
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    Hope he plays good! Cant wait!!
  4. VesceySux

    VesceySux Contributing Member

    Jul 31, 2001
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    Greeeeeat. This was the biggest knock on him coming into the draft. If he's dropping Ragone's passes, I wonder if he can handle bullets from Carr. Typically, wide receivers are, y'know, supposed to catch the ball. Especially those taken in the top 3 picks of the draft. What good is yards after catch average (in which Dre was absolutely stellar in college) if you can't hang on to the football? God, I hope we didn't draft a humble, super-nice kid who can't catch s***.

    Okay, calming down now. It's just the first minicamp. He's definitely allowed to make mistakes. He's just a rookie... He's just a rookie... He'sjustarookie. Whew. Feeling a little better now...
  5. Summer Song Giver

    Sep 14, 2000
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  6. tozai

    tozai Member

    Jun 4, 2001
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    was upset with himself after dropping
  7. PhiSlammaJamma

    Aug 29, 1999
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    On draft day he let out a lot of emotion. I think he has a passion for the game that he keeps on the inside. We'll see.
  8. Lil Francis

    Lil Francis Member

    Jul 31, 2000
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    I read on houstontexans.com that Andre took the black visor off his helmet. It looks fly but he said it was hard to catch with it on.

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