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Johnson gives back, hopes to get back on field soon


After playing Santa Claus on Tuesday morning, Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson went to work on his injured left hamstring in the hopes that he can soon resume playing football.

Johnson bought almost $20,000 worth of Christmas presents for children at a local Toys 'R Us, then helped provide about 800 kids with gifts during a surprise visit to a local elementary school. He spent his afternoon rehabbing at Reliant Stadium.

The five-time Pro Bowler is anxious to return to the field after sitting out Sunday's victory at Cincinnati. He said it's too early to know if he'll play in Week 15 but that his injured hamstring is "getting better day by day."

"I think the biggest thing right now is just making sure that when I'm back able to play that I don't have that setback like I had in the Atlanta game," said Johnson, who missed six games earlier this season with a right hamstring injury. "I'm taking it one day at a time. I can honestly say this has been very, very frustrating, but I'm working hard, man. I'm working my butt off, just trying to do everything I can to get back out on that field. We're in the playoffs, so I need to be out there playing. That's something I definitely don't want to miss."

The Texans clinched the AFC South title on Sunday, ensuring the first playoff berth in team history. Many fans say they hope Johnson plays it safe and rests until the playoffs begin.

"If I had a choice, if everything works out and I was able to be healthy with regular season games left, I would like to play in a regular season game," Johnson said. "You want to have a game to get that rust off, so I would definitely play.

"I'm feeling better. I'm seeing a little progress. Like I said, it's been very frustrating. I wish I could heal faster, but I'm just taking one day at a time and just trying to stay positive."

'Positive' was the operative word for Johnson on Tuesday morning. He took 13 kids from Child Protective Services on his fourth-annual holiday shopping spree at Toys 'R Us.

Number 80 gave the kids 80 seconds to stuff as many items as they could into a shopping cart, and he shrugged casually as he looked at a seven-foot-long receipt totaling $17,260.57.

"It's something I look forward to every year," Johnson said. "Nothing beats these kids. You never know what they would've received for Christmas, but they're happy now. It's pretty awesome to see the smiles on their faces.

"I grew up when there were times at Christmas I couldn't get what I wanted. I've had some friends who couldn't get anything. I'm blessed to be able to play a game that I love and make a lot of money doing it. I always said that when I got to this position that I'd give back."

After his Toys 'R Us spending spree, Johnson went to nearby Bastian Elementary School in southeast Houston, about five miles from Reliant Stadium.

Johnson adopted the school in 2008 and visits it about three times a year. That continued Tuesday, when he helped give every Bastian student a Christmas present through the Houston Police Department's "Blue Santa" program. He also presented 60 high-achieving, in-need students with new bicycles in conjunction with Academy Sports and Outdoors.

"It's a pretty exciting day," Johnson said. "It's holiday time, time for giving. I'm just trying to give back."

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