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Davis seizing opportunity

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André Davis has been looking for a home since he started his pro career with the Cleveland Browns in 2002.

There have been moments of brilliance as he played his way through four teams, Cleveland, New England, Buffalo and now with the Texans.

Davis got his shot two weeks ago because of Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson's knee injury and Davis has opened eyes throughout the organization for his steady catches in two starts.

"That's why we brought him here," receivers coach Larry Kirksey said. "He's played in this league before and he was a high draft choice (second round). He hasn't performed probably up to his capabilities. He knew he was going to get an opportunity at some point in time."

Davis has been a godsend for the Texans since Johnson's injury. In two starts, Davis has helped the Texans continue with an impressive passing attack, catching nine balls for 187 yards and one touchdown, a spectacular 35-yard grab last week against Atlanta.

Until two weeks ago, Davis had labored in obscurity mostly on special teams during his pro career.

"A lot of people think if you're not on offense or defense, you're not helping the team out," Davis said. "Special teams isn't a glamorous job. You don't get appreciated for it, but I did that and helped the Buffalo Bills out last year.

"Now I have an opportunity to go out and play a little bit of receiver. I'm enjoying it."

Davis took pride in being ready to start when his chance arrived.

"That's what it's all about, capitalizing when you get an opportunity," Davis said. "We're all getting paid to do a job. For me, I look at it like that. I'm going out there to catch the ball and come in here and study film. I'm looking at it in a business fashion. I'm making sure I can go out there to take care of my job and help the team."

Davis showed his big-play ability in the first quarter of last week's 26-16 loss to the Falcons. He fought off cornerback Chris Houston, who was called for pass interference on the play, and hauled in the Texans' only touchdown of the game.

"Nobody's said anything (about the TD)," Davis said. "It's something that's expected of our receivers. I don't look at it as being anything special. I just go out and do what I'm supposed to do."

Davis' first two years in the league at Cleveland were his most productive. He caught 37 and 40 passes, respectively, and had six and five touchdowns in 2002 and 2003. His catches dwindled to 16 for the Browns in 2004. He had nine catches with New England in 2005 and two catches in 16 games with Buffalo last season.

Davis never planned to be an NFL nomad. He says he was just looking for the right opportunity.

"People think about it as a curse, like I've been on all these different teams," Davis said. "I've been looking for the best opportunities and that's the reason I've left. I don't think it's been that these teams don't want me it's just I've been a free agent at the end of each year and I've looked for the best opportunity. So this is an opportunity to help the Texans and I'll go from there."

Kirksey was happy to have Davis and his speed to plug into Johnson's wide receiver spot.

"He's just continued capitalizing on those opportunities and prepared himself just as if he were playing," Kirksey said. "That's the good thing and his demeanor has been one that whatever the team needs, that's what he'll do."

Davis was inactive in Houston's first two games. Then, he started the next two games and likely will be a starter on Sunday against the Dolphins.

"It's a mindset for me," Davis said. "It's a matter of how hard you work. A lot of people, if you're deactivated, you might not work as hard. But me, I'm practicing every week like I'm going to play.

"It's just a matter of, am I playing on Sunday or not? That doesn't necessarily mess up the way I prepare and when I do play I expect myself to make plays and that's what I've been able to do."

Davis caught five passes for 117 yards against Atlanta. He was the first Texans receiver other than Johnson to gain 100 yards receiving since Corey Bradford had 101 yards against Jacksonville on Dec. 24, 2005.

Davis won't call last Sunday his best game.

"Hopefully, my best game will be my next game, I don't try to look at the past," Davis said. "I had some good times in Cleveland and Buffalo and New England and right now I'm trying to do all I can to make sure this team can get to 3-2 this week."

Davis does have a few highlights in his career.

He shares a tie for the NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown reception against Cincinnati in 2004. He had 168 yards on kickoff returns against the Texans in 2002 and that included a 95-yard touchdown return that earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Kirksey was not surprised that Davis and other backups stepped in and performed.

"That's what they prepare for," Kirksey said. "They don't get a lot of reps in practice, but they know they've got to go out and perform. There's no pressure. They know the job has to be done by someone and they went out and had fun with it and performed."

The Texans played the Falcons with only three wide receivers.

"It's my first time going out to a game with only three receivers," Davis said. "He (Kirksey) said you guys have to step up and play the whole game. There's no one to come in and sub for you guys. So get ready."

Kevin Walter, who has started all season with Johnson at wide receiver, wasn't surprised by the continued output in Johnson's absence.

"It's no surprise to me from the beginning what we could do," Walter said. "We can all make plays. We've been in the league for a few years, so it didn't surprise me at all.

"You only need two out there. We played with three last week."

Kirksey would like to see Johnson, Jacoby Jones and Jerome Mathis back in uniform this week to go along with Davis and the other wideouts.

"We're going to prepare as if they're not there and if they are, that's a bonus," Kirksey said. "It's a matter of guys stepping up to the plate and executing those plays. Everybody has to be accountable. Those guys were accountable this weekend and hopefully they will be this coming game.

"They are here to perform."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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