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Fourth-career Pro Bowl a homecoming for Johnson


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – In more ways than one, Andre Johnson is at home during the 2010 Pro Bowl week.

First and foremost, Miami is Johnson's hometown. His high school, Miami High, is a 30-minute drive from the Pro Bowl practice field at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. The University of Miami, where Johnson starred before being drafted third overall by the Texans in 2003, is just down the beach from there.

"It's not Hawaii, but at the same time, it's home," Johnson said. "I think guys really look forward to the vacation in Hawaii, but at the same time, it's the Pro Bowl. Guys are out here having fun. It seems the same, but just a different venue."

Johnson speaks from experience, as he and the Pro Bowl have become practically synonymous. This is Johnson's third Pro Bowl in the past four seasons and the fourth Pro Bowl of his seven-year career. Only 13 of the 86 players who will play in Sunday's all-star game have been to more.

"(He's) one of the best (receivers) in the league – top three, probably one," said New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, Johnson's Pro Bowl teammate and the runner-up for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors this season. "I put him at one in my book. Year in and year out, he's been consistent of just making touchdowns and making the big plays."

This season, Johnson became the second player in NFL history – along with Jerry Rice – to lead the league in receiving yards in back-to-back seasons. He also became the second receiver – along with Marvin Harrison – to post consecutive 1,500-yard seasons.

"'Dre is the real deal, man," Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, a six-time Pro Bowler, said. "(He's a) combination of size, speed strength. It's a dangerous – very, very dangerous – combination, very dangerous combination for a receiver. A receiver like that, they're very rare. They don't come by very often.

{QUOTE}"There aren't too many of them in the league, and the ones that are at that size, they're not fast or something gives when you're that big. But when you have the complete package like Andre… man, that's special."

Ochocinco and Johnson are both from Miami, the two close friends having known each other since high school. Johnson – who has been taking college classes at Miami this offseason – is also joined at the Pro Bowl by five former Miami Hurricanes teammates.

Ravens safety Ed Reed, Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, 49ers running back Frank Gore, Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle and Vikings offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie all played with Johnson at "The U."

"As soon as we saw each other in the lobby the first day that we all checked in, we just started sitting around each other and catching up with things that have been going on," Johnson said. "The unity and camaraderie that we have as teammates, it never leaves you. It kind of felt like we were back in college again just sitting around talking about football, talking about things that have been going on in each others' families and things like that. It's been a lot of fun to be back around those guys."

Johnson's college teammates are one of several reminders this week of his ties to Miami. In the game on Sunday evening, the Texans' star receiver will get to demonstrate why his name is likely to continue to be tied to the Pro Bowl for years to come.

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