Johnson absent from first day of OTAs


Wide receiver Andre Johnson missed the first day of the Texans' organized team activities (OTAs) on Monday.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson was absent from the first day of the Texans' organized team activities (OTAs) on Monday, raising questions about the four-time Pro Bowler's contract situation.

Johnson is three years into an eight-year contract that he signed in 2007. At the time, he had two years remaining on his rookie contract from 2003.

"Over the first three years of that (new) deal, I think if you even ask him, he's been well compensated," Texans general manager Rick Smith said. "He's got five years left on his deal now. We're willing to sit down and talk with him. He knows that."

The Texans' 14 OTA practices are voluntary. The first mandatory part of the offseason is the team's mini-camp on June 14-16.

"Obviously, we want Andre here," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I know he and Rick are talking, so we'll get it worked out. We're not worried about Andre. He'll do his job...I want him here, but he'll do his job."

Johnson has led the league in receiving yards in back-to-back seasons and has been named to two consecutive Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams. He had 101 catches for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009, teaming with quarterback Matt Schaub to lead the top passing offense in the NFL.

In the past, Smith's policy has been to not negotiate with players unless they're present with the team. Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans missed the early part of OTAs last year in a contract dispute but eventually reported to the team after switching agents. This offseason, Ryans signed a new long-term contract to remain in Houston.

"I thought one of the things that was real smart on his part was the fact that he was upset that we had not been able to come to terms with an agreement, but he came back and he was a part of the offseason program," Smith said of Ryans. "He was with his teammates, he was a leader, he did things the right way, he played his contract out and he was rewarded. So those are the type of situations and circumstances that we like, and all of our guys understand that."

Johnson, a quiet leader in the Texans' locker room, has been the consummate professional in his seven seasons with the team. Smith said that Johnson's decision not to report to OTAs does not reflect poorly on his character.

"Andre Johnson is hugely important to this organization and its success and our ability to go do what we want to do this fall," Smith said. "I have no issues with Andre."

The Texans are coming off a franchise-best 9-7 season and looking to make the playoffs for the first time in 2010.

"You like to have all your people out here working, especially when we're trying to go do something we never have done," Smith said. "The ideal situation is to have everybody working together, but as we talked about last week (in the wake of Brian Cushing's suspension), you've got to be able to deal with distractions."

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