2010 season in review: Wide receiver


Top performer: Andre Johnson (86 receptions, 1,216 yards, 8 TDs)

Newcomers: Dorin Dickerson (draft, seventh-round pick), Derrick Townsel (rookie free agent)

Major injuries: Johnson (high-ankle sprain in Week 2), David Anderson (season-ending shoulder injury in Week 14), André Davis (season-ending back injury in preseason)

Position coach: Larry Kirksey (14th NFL season, 4th with Texans)

Year in review: Johnson tied for sixth in the NFL in catches and was sixth in yards despite playing 12 games with an ankle injury that also caused him to miss three games. He led the Texans in touchdown catches and earned his fifth Pro Bowl appearance.

Against Tennessee in Week 12, Johnson became the first player in NFL history with at least 60 receptions in each of his first eight seasons. The two-time All Pro went over the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive year and fifth time in his career at Philadelphia on Dec. 2. He became the sixth-fastest receiver in NFL history to reach the 9,000-yard mark against Baltimore in Week 14, his 114th career game.

Kevin Walter started opposite Johnson for the fourth straight year and ranked third on the team with 51 receptions for 621 yards. It was Walter's fourth consecutive season with at least 600 receiving yards, and his five touchdown catches ranked second on the team.

Fourth-year pro Jacoby Jones continued his progression into more than a special teams threat in 2010. He set career highs with 51 catches and 562 yards and caught three touchdowns despite missing Week 5 with a calf injury. Jones had his first career 100-yard game in Week 16 at Denver, catching five passes for 115 yards, and had a career-high seven catches in Week 15 at Tennessee.

Anderson caught 11 passes for 117 yards before being placed on injured reserve following a shoulder injury against Baltimore. Dickerson, a converted tight end from the University of Pittsburgh, got sparse playing time on offense at the end of the season with Anderson and Johnson on the sidelines. He did not have any catches. Townsel, an undrafted rookie from Murray State, was signed to the active roster on Dec. 15 and made his debut on kickoff coverage in Week 16 at Denver.

Season highlight: Week 2 at Washington. Johnson tied a team record with 12 catches and had 158 receiving yards en route to being named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. The Texans faced a fourth-and-10 at the Redskins' 34-yard line with less than three minutes to play. Quarterback Matt Schaub heaved a pass to the end zone for Johnson, who had sprained his ankle earlier in the game, and Johnson made a leaping touchdown catch over Redskins safety Reed Doughty to send the game to overtime.

Johnson also had the game-winning catch in Week 6 against Kansas City with 28 seconds remaining, and he forced overtime against Baltimore in Week 14 with a five-yard catch in the back of the end zone with 21 seconds left to play.

Season lowlight: Weeks 16 and 17. Johnson missed the final two games after X-rays revealed that his ankle injury had gotten worse, and with it he missed a chance at history. He had a shot to become the first receiver in NFL history with 1,500 yards in three consecutive seasons. Johnson also could have joined Jerry Rice (1993-95) as the only players ever to lead the league in receiving yards in three consecutive seasons.

The Texans were out of playoff contention at the time, so it wouldn't have made sense for Johnson to play and risk further injury. The silver lining in him sitting out was that Jones got a chance to step up, and he thrived in the final two games.

Notable number: 93.5 – Johnson's receiving yards per game in 2010, which led the league by a full three yards. Johnson has averaged 79.7 yards per game in his career, the highest in NFL history among players with at least 100 games. He has averaged 96.5 yards per game in four seasons with Schaub as his quarterback.

Key splits: Johnson was a force in the red zone. He was targeted 13 times inside the 20-yard line and caught eight passes. Five of them went for touchdowns, and all eight were good for first downs. Inside the 10-yard line, Johnson caught three of five passes thrown his way. Each one was a touchdown.

Johnson averaged a league-high 116.5 yards per game against NFC opponents in 2010, totaling 27 receptions for 466 yards and a touchdown in four games against the NFC East. In 30 career games against NFC teams, Johnson has caught 200 passes for 2,957 yards and 17 touchdowns. His average of 98.6 yards per game against the NFC since 2003 is 14.5 yards higher than any other player in the NFL in that time span.

Quotable: "I just try to do everything I can to help the team win games on Sunday. That's pretty much it. I'm going to do whatever I have to do as far as rehab. I can deal with the pain. I'm just going to go out there and keep playing. It doesn't matter how many times I re-tweak it or whatever, I'm going to keep playing. The only thing that's going to keep me from playing is if it's broken."
- Johnson, in the Texans locker room on Dec. 7, on playing through his high-ankle sprain

Looking ahead: Johnson had arthroscopic surgery on his ankle after the season but should be fine in plenty of time for 2011. He and Walter are both locked up long-term; Johnson signed a contract extension last summer, while Walter re-signed with the Texans last spring as an unrestricted free agent.

Jones' contract with the team is up after four seasons. Depending on the terms of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, he could become a restricted free agent. The Texans tendered him in early March, reportedly at a second-round level. That means if Jones does end up being restricted and another team signs him, the Texans will receive a second-round pick as compensation if they don't match the other team's offer.

Dickerson is an intriguing prospect with outstanding athleticism and potential if he can continue to refine his game as a receiver. The Texans released Davis after the season.

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