Johnson had 131 receiving yards before halftime in his first extended work of the preseason Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
But New Orleans' backups scored two touchdowns in the second half to help the Saints to a 31-23 victory.
Johnson didn't play in the preseason opener and had less than a quarter of work last week. On Sunday, he grabbed seven of the eight passes thrown to him, highlighted by a 39-yard reception.
"When we sit down and game plan I try to figure out ways to get Andre the ball," coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's a compliment to the other guys that Andre's able to get the ball so much."
The Texans don't have a lot of experience at receiver behind Johnson, an 11-year veteran. But Kubiak has been impressed by the development of Lestar Jean, who had 36 receiving yards Sunday, and Keshawn Martin, who finished with 10. The group also is expected to get a boost this season from first-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins, who missed Sunday's game after sustaining a concussion last week.
"We just try to make the best of the opportunities," Johnson said. "We got a lot of opportunities in the first half of the game. I just did what I could."
Quarterback Matt Schaub raved about the group and said he has "total confidence" in the young players.
"He looked very good," Kubiak said of Tate. "He's been our one healthy veteran back. I think Ben's ready. I think he's going to have a really good year."
"I felt like we were just kind of hitting our stride when a couple of us got pulled," Brees said.
"I'm getting more comfortable and getting more used to being out there," Stills said. "It's about playing football and having fun, and that's really all it is."
Backup Luke McCown came in with 8 minutes left in the second quarter. He finished with 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Andy Tanner had 33 yards receiving with two touchdown receptions in the second half for New Orleans.
Tate piled up 51 yards on Houston's second drive, with the highlight coming on a 39-yard run when he darted to the outside and cut back in for the big gain. He capped it with a 1-yard run that gave Houston a 7-0 lead.
Johnson beat his coverage and was wide open for the 39-yard reception in the second quarter. Schaub was sacked after that and Houston's offense stalled before Bullock made it 13-7 with a 55-yard field goal.
"We moved the heck out of the ball, we've just got to score more points and be better in the red zone," Kubiak said.
Martin returned the punt for a touchdown, but it was called back because of an illegal block by Brandon Harris.
McCown's first drive ended with a 51-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley that cut Houston's lead to 13-10.
Harris was called for his second costly penalty of the game on a 40-yard pass interference call on the first play of the second half. New Orleans took advantage of the penalty when McCown found Tanner for an 8-yard touchdown strike to make it 24-16.
Tate got another start despite Foster returning to practice this week for the first time since May after dealing with calf and back injuries. Kubiak has said that Foster could start in Houston's opener Sept. 9 without getting a preseason snap.
NOTES: Houston tight end Garrett Graham injured his hip, but Kubiak said he should be OK. ... Johnson's 131 receiving yards were the second-most in a half in Houston preseason history. ... Ingram and Thomas combined for just 43 yards rushing, but added another 79 yards receiving.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press