Bruce Ellington had a connection with Andre Johnson before the two had ever even met.
Both played wide receiver for the Texans at different points in their respective careers, Johnson from 2003-14 and Ellington in 2017.
However, Ellington’s opportunity in Houston was largely in part due to Johnson. Ellington, who played three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, had a nagging hamstring injury that required a drastic surgery. He had his semitendinosus muscle removed, leaving Ellington with two remaining hamstring muscles in his leg.
“Andre Johnson, he had the same injury that I had,” Ellington said. “They tried to keep it in there to see if it works but it kept having problems and stuff like that. So eventually I guess they start removing it now and it’s working for me.”
The Texans took a chance on Ellington after he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets within days of each other. Ellington joined the team in training camp on Aug. 11 after Will Fuller V suffered a collarbone injury that required surgery.
“When I met Bruce, he came up to me and that was the first thing he said to me like, ‘Man I had that same injury, like how did you do this, how did you do that, how did you get through it?' That injury is really frustrating because hamstrings are tricky,” Johnson said on Texans Radio.
In 2011 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Johnson caught a 13-yard pass in the second quarter of the Week 4 matchup. He went down with a non-contact injury and did not return until Week 12 against Jacksonville.
“When it tore, it was just sitting behind my knee,” Johnson said. “When I was in the doctor’s office, he walked up to me. He looked at my MRI. He just walked into the office and grabbed my knee and when he grabbed my knee, I almost jumped off the table. He was like, that’s where your hamstring tendon is sitting at. That’s why you feel that pain. He was like, I could remove it. It won’t affect you but he was like, you’ll have some days where you might feel a little discomfort but you’ll still be able to play without it.”
The next season, Johnson recorded a career-best 1,598 yards receiving and scored four touchdowns. He gave Ellington some words of advice.
"I just told him, man you just got to be patient with it," Johnson said. "Some days it’s going to feel like it’s not working, you’re going to get frustrated but when you feel like that, don’t force it. Just let it come and that’s what I did. You know, I was so amped to get back to playing, at time, I felt like I was just forcing it."
Johnson also recommended the doctor that helped him after his surgery. Ellington heeded the two-time All-Pro’s advice and the two ran into each other shortly after that.
“I actually saw Bruce at the Memphis Grizzlies and Rockets game and he said, ‘Man, I sure appreciate you helping me out so,'” Johnson said.
In his first start as a Texan, Bruce Ellington caught four passes for 59 yards and scored on a 29-yard touchdown reception at New England. Through eight games, Ellington has 22 catches, 242 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
The Texans will honor Andre Johnson during Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. The franchise’s all-time leading wide receiver will become the first member of the Houston Texans Ring of Honor.