Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/Editor, TitansOnline.com
Wide receiver Andre Johnson is ready for a return trip to Houston, where he began his NFL career from 2003-14.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Andre Johnson remembers all the good times with the Texans — the big catches, the 1,000-yard seasons, and the relationships he built during his 12 years in Houston.
When he returned to the city last year as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, he got a warm reception.
“I couldn’t tell you how many hugs I got just walking into the stadium,’’ Johnson said on Monday.
This Sunday, the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver will return to Houston once again, this time as a member of the Tennessee Titans. Yes, he admits it will be special.
But no, he’s not looking for any extra attention.
“I think the media makes more of a big deal out of it than I do,’’ Johnson said. “It is what it is, it’s another game. It is always great, though, to go back home and play. … It is fun to compete against a lot of guys who were former teammates of mine. I think that is the fun part of it, but I don’t make a big deal about it.”
Johnson, who signed with the Titans at the start of training camp, played in 169 games for the Texans from 2003-2014. He’s the Texans all-time leading receiver with 1,012 catches for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns. He posted seven 1,000-yard seasons, including three when he went over 1,500 yards. And he was a Titan killer during those days, turning in one big game after another against his AFC South division rival.
Johnson played in 2015 with the Colts, and returned to Houston on October 8 to face his old team. He received more than hugs that day. Johnson had six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns in that contest. It was his best game of the season.
Johnson said he has great memories from his days with the Texans.
“A great organization,’’ he said. “They gave me an opportunity and I was able to give them everything I had for 12 seasons. It was a lot of fun. I built a lot of great relationships. … It is always great to go back and play in front of those fans I played in front of for 12 years. So it will be fun.”
This week, Titans fans are trying to erase the memories of some of Johnson’s games in a Houston uniform, and hoping to replace those thoughts with some more pleasant ones.
At the same time, they’re also trying to forget about Johnson’s potential game-tying touchdown being negated on Sunday against the Raiders because of an offensive pass interference penalty.
Johnson, who has four catches for 39 yards this season — including a game-winning catch in Week 2 at Detroit — said he’s moved past Sunday’s controversial finish.
He’s ready for the next game, and not because it’s against the Texans.
“Early on in my career it probably would’ve bothered me,’’ Johnson said of the pass interference call. “I think as you move on and play for a while, you just understand… it’s out of your control. You only control what you can. Earlier in my career I probably would’ve been frustrated and mad, and probably saying some negative things and all that stuff. But that is out of my control.
“We still have a chance to battle for first place in our division and we’ll move on to next week… No matter what I think and how I feel, or how anybody else feels, it’s not going to change the call. It doesn’t matter. It happened, the flag was thrown and you have to move on from that and get ready for next week.”