Before the start of the 2023 season, Texans Ring of Honor inductee Andre Johnson felt like the DeMeco Ryans-led Texans could win 10 games.
People gave him funny looks at that time.
But now with Houston over halfway to the double-digit win mark at 6-4 entering Sunday and vying for first place in the AFC South with a showdown against the Jaguars, this team has the city buzzing about football again.
"It's truly amazing. It's fun. It's got the city buzzing," Johnson said. "Say what you want, it's a football town. I think we've got the buzz back and everybody is excited about it. They're building it the right way."
Johnson was on hand at Sunday's Battle Red game to rep H-Town on the field during the pregame festivities.
Along with No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud emerging as a star – and early contender for Rookie of the Year – Johnson has taken notice of the performance of fellow rookie Tank Dell.
The first time the seven-time Pro Bowler laid eyes on Dell was at a University of Houston practice last year. It wasn't until months later at the Senior Bowl, that's when Dell really caught his attention.
"His creativity with route running, the separation he creates is different," Johnson said. "It's definitely different the way he gets in and out of routes. Whoever's taught him has done a great job. I only see him getting better and better as he grows. Very excited for the kid."
Dell would be drafted with the 69th overall pick by the Texans in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft.After the draft, Johnson and college teammate Reggie Wayne talked on the phone. And Dell came up.
"When we drafted him, I was super excited," Johnson said. "The funny thing is me and Reggie Wayne, my college teammate, we talked after the draft. He's the receivers coach for the Colts and the first thing he talked about was, 'man you all got Tank'. That was one of his favorite guys that he saw in the draft."
Dell enters Sunday with 42 receptions for 659 yards and six scores, which is the rookie single-season franchise record for touchdowns.
The man throwing him the ball has been Stroud.
The rookie has passed for 2,962 yards and 17 touchdowns and completed 62.8% of his passes through his first 10 games of his NFL career.
"C.J. is just a great guy," Johnson said. "They always have me come in and meet the first round picks and guys we draft. From the time I met him, he's always seemed like a great guy. He was raised the right way."
The success for the Texans can be attributed to the combination of talented rookies and savvy veteran mix that this roster holds.
But for Johnson, the key to the success is the man in charge in former teammate DeMeco Ryans leading the way as head coach.
"Nothing that they're doing surprises me because he's the type of coach you'll run through a brick wall for," Johnson said.