Texans' Johnson returns to practice, will discuss contract with GM

HOUSTON -- The Texans haven't promised Andre Johnson a new deal, but the star wide receiver practiced with the team Thursday after skipping the previous three voluntary workouts over a contract dispute.

"I didn't feel comfortable sitting at home because that's not me," Johnson said. "If all the guys were out here working, I felt I like I should be out here working."

La Canfora: Smart move by Johnson

Andre Johnson was wise

to return to OTAs because the reality is, without any leverage, he's unlikely to receive a new contract, Jason La Canfora writes. **More ...**

Johnson has five years left on an eight-year, $60 million contract that included $15 million in guarantees. The Texans reworked his original contract three years ago when it had two years remaining on it.

Johnson met with Texans owner Bob McNair on Wednesday and said he's ready to "move on." McNair said he didn't make any guarantees beyond a commitment to discuss the contract, but he was confident Johnson will remain a "happy Texan."

"Andre came to see me and wanted to assure me that he loved being a Texan and this whole thing has sort of gotten blown out of proportion," McNair said. "He wanted me to know that he's a team player and that nothing has changed."

Johnson is one of the NFL's top receivers, but his contract doesn't place him among the highest-paid players at his position -- Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals and Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins earn significantly more. Johnson, the third overall draft pick by the Texans in 2003, is entering his eighth NFL season and has led the league in receiving in each of the last two seasons.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak smiled as he watched Johnson run through drills with the team.

"He's been the heart and soul of this football team for a long time, and I'm just glad to see him out here," Kubiak said.

Johnson said he hopes something can be worked out with his contract, but either way, he plans to play for the Texans until he retires. He seemed resigned to the possibility that he might not receive a new deal.

"I don't really think you can really win against an organization," Johnson said. "When you're under contract, they can hold you to that, and it's up to them to redo it or give you an extension or whatever they want to do. So they really don't have to do nothing. They can sit there and hold me to that contract."

More from Johnson

The Texans' official Web site also caught up with WR Andre Johnson following his return to the practice field Thursday. To see more quotes from the four-time

Pro Bowl pick, click **here.**

McNair said Johnson and general manager Rick Smith will meet to discuss the contract as some point, but there isn't a schedule for any negotiations.

"I don't know what's next," Johnson said. "I don't have a timeframe or anything. I'm just out here working with the team. That's what I'm going to do, and if the contract situation works out, it works out. If not, it doesn't."

Texans officials appreciate Johnson's work ethic and leadership, and they believe he showed character by joining the team without receiving a new contract. McNair said he's confident they'll be able to make the situation work because of Johnson's history of putting the team first.

"He is a special player, and we want him to feel good about his situation and we'll do what we can to make him happy about it," McNair said.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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