For the first time in nine months, Kevin Johnson's back on the practice field with his teammates. The third-year cornerback's season ended with a foot injury on October 15 of last year, so the first two days of Texans training camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia have been happy ones for Johnson.
"It's been a while," Johnson said Thursday. "It's been a long process but I'm feeling great and I'm excited to get back and just getting better every day, getting my swagger back and getting my groove back."
Johnson spent May and June watching from the side fields with the medical training staff as he rehabbed his foot. Head coach Bill O'Brien said the 2015 first rounder has come a long way.
"Yeah, he's made great progress," O'Brien said. "He's been in Houston the whole offseason. He's worked extremely hard to get back to where he is right now. He's a competitor, excellent player, young player, got a great future ahead of him. So, I have a lot of respect for Kevin."
Johnson said the absence from the field was "tough" last year.
"I've been playing this game my whole life," Johnson said. "Sitting out a year was just kind of like different for me. It was weird not playing football and just seeing everybody doing so well. It just made me hungry to come back and be the best player I can be."
That hunger and determination has been evident the first two practices, as he's frequently been matched up with Pro Bowl wideout DeAndre Hopkins. The two have battled, but Johnson has held his own.
"We're going to compete every practice," Johnson said. "Going against a player like that, it's just making me better. Just really competing with everybody, just trying to get the best out of them. I'm going to give them my best."
Johnson comes back to a defense with high expectations for 2017. He and the Texans will don pads Friday for the first time in camp.
Check out photos from the second day of #TexansCamp practice at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.