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Houston Texans

Finally home, receiver looks to flourish


There's no place like home. While this isn't Kansas, and he's certainly no Dorothy, those may very well have been the words spoken by new Texans wide receiver Bethel Johnson to Texans general manager Rick Smith two days ago. The former Texas A&M standout and native of Corsicana agreed to a one-year deal Monday with the team, returning to his native Texas after four NFL seasons played outside his home state.

"It feels great to be back home," the speedy receiver and kick return specialist said. "I'm truly blessed. I can't explain it enough to people how elated I am to just be back home.

"My mother had to buy the NFL package every year just to see me play, and now she can actually come to the games. So it's a great feeling to be here."

For Johnson, the move to Houston also represents a chance to finally settle in one place after bouncing around the league. A second-round selection of the New England Patriots in 2003, he spent his first three seasons in Foxboro. But since being traded to New Orleans following the 2005 season, Johnson has spent time with the Saints, Vikings, and Eagles before landing with the Texans this week.

That makes Houston Johnson's fifth team in less than two years. He's hoping it's his last, at least for a while.

"It's a huge opportunity (to settle down here)," he said. "I don't think a lot of people get it sometimes. Some people think everything is promised to them, everything is guaranteed to them.

"But I look at every opportunity as a chance to take advantage of it, to do something, and do something well. I just feel that this here is a nice fit for me. Being in Texas, being back at home – it's a no-brainer."

Johnson faces plenty of competition for playing time in Houston. He's the fifth wide receiver added to the roster this offseason via free agency or the draft. He'll also compete with Jerome Mathis and others for kick return duties. But Johnson brings something that few players on this emerging franchise can boast – winning experience.

In his three seasons with the Patriots, Johnson contributed six touchdowns (four receiving, two on kick returns) as the team won two Super Bowl titles, and he hopes to bring that winning attitude to what he calls an up-and-coming team.

"I've been in the game for five years now and I've won in this business, so I've learned from those guys that I've been around – how to prepare yourself, how to be a leader, and to just go out and do your job and do it well," he said.

{QUOTE} Slowed by a stress fracture in his foot that led to his release from Philadelphia, Johnson looks to be fully healed and ready for training camp.

"I'm going to be here getting myself prepared," Johnson said of his upcoming schedule. "I haven't been really running a lot because of the situation I had with my leg, but I'm getting myself ready physically to be here and do what I have to do."

There's one thing he won't have to worry about leading up to training camp and that's meeting his new quarterback. Johnson has already met Matt Schaub depsite being in town for just two days. But it was an encounter from a few years ago that left a bigger impression in the receiver's mind.

"We actually played against each other when he was in Atlanta and I was in New England," Johnson said. "I remember him getting in there and kind of picking us apart. I was like, 'Man, I wish we saw Michael (Vick) today instead of him,' because he was picking us apart."

Johnson hopes that he and Schaub can pick apart defenses together this season. As far as goals and accolades go, however, Johnson is strictly focused on one thing.

"My goal is to win. That's just the bottom line," he said.

And he was encouraged by what he saw in his first day being with the team.

"I think they're tired; they're tired of being the whooping stick or the pushover of the league or whatever," he said of his new teammates. "I was watching today, and I think the attitude's there. As long as we believe it, things will change around here."

Texans fans can only hope that Johnson finds a comfort zone that will allow his skills to flourish and attitude to impact his new teammates.

"That's what I'm expecting," he said. "That's what I'm here to do."

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