An eventful Thursday at Reliant Stadium brought an end to the first week of Texans Training Camp presented by Comcast.
Between practices at 8 a.m. and 7:15 p.m., the Texans signed wide receiver Andre Johnson to a contract extension through the 2016 season. The deal reportedly makes Johnson, who was under contract through 2014, the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.
"With having five years left on my contact, for them to do something like this for me and my family, I don't think words can really describe it," Johnson said. "All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart… I'm very happy that we were able to get everything settled and I can move forward with football."
Johnson has been with the Texans since 2003, when he was drafted third overall out of Miami (Fla.). He called it a "tremendous honor" to be able to play his entire career with the team.
"I think it's a great thing for this organization and for a great person and a hell of a player," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I've been doing this a long time, and he's what this game is all about. For him to stay the course with this organization through some tough times says a lot about what Houston means to him. So it's well-deserved, and a great job by (general manager) Rick (Smith) with getting it all worked out."
Johnson has led the league in receiving yards in back-to-back seasons, a feat only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice has also accomplished in modern NFL history. Johnson also is one of two players to record 1,500 receiving yards in consecutive seasons.
"He's been a heck of a player for a number of years, and I'm pumped for him," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "It just shows that this organization, from the top down, we're committed to keeping the players that are the nucleus and the core of this team."
Five Things Worth Noting
• There's a battle underway for the Texans' No. 2 wide receiver spot between Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones. Walter, who was re-signed as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, is the incumbent starter. Jones, a talented playmaker entering his fourth season out of Lane College, is nipping at his heels. "Kevin and Jacoby are going head to head," Kubiak said. "That's the bottom line. Kevin's the starter; he's earned that right. We've got a heck of a player (Jones) pushing to be a starter in this league. We're putting them right down the middle. It's very competitive."
• Fans got a live look at the Texans' kicking competition on Thursday night. With special teams coordinator Joe Marciano keeping a watchful eye, Kris Brown and Neil Rackers both went 6-of-7 on field goal attempts of 48 yards or longer. Rackers missed first from 48, while Brown missed one off the post and crossbar from 55 yards away. Brown was 1-of-2 from 55, while Rackers was 2-of-2. "They've both been kicking very well," Kubiak said. "We'll just keep going and try to get it as fair as we can until we start playing (games)."
• Several players returned to practice on Thursday after missing at least two days with injuries, including defensive end Antonio Smith and linebacker Zac Diles. Linebacker Brian Cushing was back at practice after an excused absence Wednesday for personal business, "We got to 72 (players)," Kubiak said. "Hopefully, our number keeps growing and we start getting some of these guys back."
• Kubiak had high praise for wide receiver Bobby Williams on Thursday morning. Williams (6-4, 215), a first-year player out of North Alabama, is practically anonymous among the media since he signed with the Texans on June 16 after a three-day tryout in mini-camp. "(He) has impressed the heck out of me," Kubiak said. "This guy is staring at a tough group to crack, but he proves every day that he can play NFL football. He's very impressive."
• As he does each year, Kubiak had the entire team walk over to the fence lining the fields to sign autographs for fans after the evening practice. Kubiak also joined in on the autograph signing after speaking with the media for a few minutes. "It's important," he said. "Our fans are great. It just seems like since I've been here from the first year 'til now, just to see what's going on with our football team and the excitement with our football team, it's great for us. We enjoy it. It gets everybody going, and we appreciate the fans coming out."
Five Things Worth Quoting"It's important to us that Andre have one home, and that's with the Texans. He's a future Hall of Famer and will probably be our first Hall of Fame player, and we wanted to make sure that he went in as a Texan."
- Texans owner Bob McNair, on Andre Johnson
"I do know where this organization wants to be and I know where I want the organization to be, and if it's up to me, I'll tote it on my back to hopefully be playing in Cowboys Stadium (site of Super Bowl XLV) at the end of this season. When you watch me play on Sundays, you're going to see all that I have. I'm going to lay it all on the line, so that's what you can expect from me."
- Johnson, on if his mentality after signing his contract extension
"He deserves to be the highest-paid player. Look at the stats and what he does and what he means to this organization, this city and the team. It's big-time. He deserves it."
- WR Kevin Walter, on Johnson
"They love us. And we love them back."
- WR Jacoby Jones, on what message it sends to players when the Texans sign a player like Johnson to a long-term contract
"It gets our guys going at the time of year when they're really tired and worked up. We appreciate what they do. That's why we play. Hopefully, it gives them something to be excited about, because we're excited about this season."
- Texans coach Gary Kubiak, on having the fans at practice on Thursday night