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Johnson: This Pro Bowl selection is "better"


Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson heads back to the Pro Bowl after a second consecutive season with more than 1,500 yarrds receiving.

After every Texans' win, before he approaches the podium for a postgame press conference, Andre Johnson is introduced as an "All World Wide Receiver."

So it's only natural that Johnson can also add "2009 Pro Bowler" to his title.

In what comes as no surprise, Johnson was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl today in a vote by players, coaches and fans. He joins linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing and defensive end Mario Williams, all three of whom were picked as reserves for the AFC.

Atop the NFL in receiving yardage with 1,504 through 15 games, Johnson has nine touchdown catches and is averaging 15.8 yards per reception. Both marks are career bests. His presence on the field is one of the big reasons the Texans are second in the league with 291 yards passing per game and poised to complete the franchise's first winning season if the Texans can beat New England on Sunday.

The fact that his team is in the playoff hunt makes this Pro Bowl selection all the more meaningful for Johnson.

"Before, when the Pro Bowls were mentioned you never had anything to look forward to as far as playoffs or anything like that," Johnson. "For us to be playing for something this late in the year, it's a great feeling. It feels a lot better than in past years."

Johnson's partnership with Matt Schaub, the league's leading passer with 4,467 yards, was enhanced by the quarterback staying healthy in 2009. Johnson was thankful for that good fortune, as well as his own.

"Me and Matt, when we're out there playing, we're pretty much on the same page," Johnson said. "Hopefully, it's something that's going to get better and better. I really think Matt deserves to be in the Pro Bowl this year. If not, hopefully we can both come out and both stay healthy and both make it next year."

Ryans goes back to the Pro Bowl also, and it's his second trip to the game. He's proud to go with Johnson, Williams and Cushing and says that makes the trip all the sweeter.

"It just shows how far the team is coming along," Ryans said. "We've been growing and growing, getting better and better each year, and for us to get this type of recognition with four guys going to the Pro Bowl is a huge honor for our organization."

Williams, who has eight sacks, also will be making his second trip to the Pro Bowl.

"I think around the NFL, being selected for the Pro Bowl, it's a thing of respect among your peers and everybody who plays football," Williams said. "To be selected again, it's definitely a great feeling and a great honor."

The rookie Cushing has been a force of nature in year number one as a Texan. He was extremely excited to get the news from head coach Gary Kubiak.

"It's one of those things you always look forward to growing up playing football, and when Coach called me today, I was beyond ecstatic," Cushing said. "I couldn't believe that this actually happened."

Cushing is also thrilled he's heading to Florida with fellow Texans Williams and Ryans.

"There's no question how special that is," Cushing said. "The first person I called when I got off the phone was DeMeco. He's yelling on the phone and I'm laughing, just excited about going there and representing together, and I'm texting Mario. Not only are we going to be there together, we're going to be on the same side of the ball and probably on the field at the same time."

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