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A look at the receivers


Johnson will be looking to earn a third Pro Bowl selection in 2007.

After releasing Eric Moulds shortly after the 2006 season, the Texans found themselves with an interesting problem, one the team has faced for most of its brief existence. Who will be the number two receiver behind Andre Johnson?

It's ironic in a way that the team's biggest position dilemma resides in the same area as its' signature star, easily the best player in team history.

The easy answer is that Kevin Walter will step into the role as the number two receiver. Walter saw limited action as Houston's third receiver in 2006, but coach Gary Kubiak saw enough of him to believe Walter can play opposite Johnson on a regular basis.

Even with Walter on the roster, the Texans didn't stand pat and added a bevy of receivers. All are young, including Johnson, but all are also extremely talented.

"I think that every guy has a lot of talent," Johnson said of the receiving corps. "There is a lot of competition out there on the practice field. Every guy can go out and make plays and every guy can out and stretch the field.

"It's going to be really interesting to see who emerges as the main group of guys."

Johnson, entering his fifth NFL season and fresh off his second Pro Bowl appearance, is entering a new stage of his career. Once an up-and-coming playmaker, Johnson now finds himself as the savvy veteran, despite his still tender age of 25.

"These years have gone by really fast," Johnson said. "I can remember when I was a rookie like it was yesterday.

"We have a lot of young guys, and I'm still young, at the receiver position. So we all just go out and work together and if the rookies have any questions and I can help them, I'll do that."

{QUOTE}Behind Walter, competition is everywhere. The team recently acquired Bethel Johnson and added André Davis earlier this offseason, two veterans with speed to burn.

Both are also threats in the return game as is rookie Jacoby Jones, who has shown flashes of the talent that made the Texans snatch him in the third round of this year's draft.

Jerome Mathis is also expecting to return healthy, so there's plenty of bodies to line up at receiver as training camp begins, but how good will the group be.

"I think there is a lot of competition out there. I think we're going to have the best group that we've had since I've been here," Johnson said.

That belief doesn't seem to be permeating through the media. Many believe the Texans failed to address a significant need and believe it will be difficult for Johnson to find success with no one to play close to his level opposite him on the line of scrimmage.

"You can't let what the media says bother you," Johnson said. "I've been in that situation before, playing behind Santana (Moss) and Reggie (Wayne) (at the University of Miami). Those guys left and everyone said, 'They don't have any receivers, they're all too young.' And then we went out and won the National Championship."

Charlie Adams, David Anderson and Onrea Jones will also be fighting for a roster spots over the next month so if nothing else, the receiver position should be interesting to watch throughout training camp.

Hopefully more than one player emerges from the group if only to relieve some of the burden from Johnson, who renegotiated his contract this offseason, allowing the Texans to make some key roster moves.

It was true sign of the player, and person, Johnson is. He would have fetched big money on the free-agent market but instead inked a deal in Houston that will keep him in Texas for the foreseeable future.

The team, armed with Johnson's generosity and commitment, didn't hesitate and went to work adding key pieces to a much-improved roster.

Johnson isn't having any second thoughts.

"I feel good about it," Johnson said of the direction of the Texans. "I think we've made some moves to make this team a playoff team and one day competes for a championship and I can't wait to get started."

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