2011 Season in Review: Wide Receivers

A position-by-position look at the Texans’ 2011 season

Season in Review: |

missed nine games in 2011 with hamstring injuries. Not surprisingly, the Texans’ production at wide receiver took a big hit in his absence. Four of the Texans’ six 100-yard receiving games in 2011 came from running backs.

Johnson had 33 catches for 492 yards and two touchdowns in 2011, all career-lows. It was the first time since he was drafted third overall in 2003 that he didn’t lead the Texans in receiving yards. It also was the first time he didn’t catch at least 60 passes, ending his NFL-record streak of eight consecutive seasons to start his career.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Johnson had 21 catches for 316 yards in the first three games before suffering a non-contact hamstring injury in Week 4 against Pittsburgh. He returned in Week 12 at Jacksonville only to hurt his left hamstring a week later against Atlanta. Johnson played in the regular-season finale and had 13 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown in the first playoff games of his career.

had 39 catches for 474 yards and three touchdowns in 2011. He played in 15 games, starting 14. He injured his shoulder in Week 1, prompting speculation that he would miss 8-12 weeks. He missed just one game before returning to the lineup.

had 31 catches for 512 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder at Tampa Bay that was the Texans’ longest play of the season. He played in all 16 games with a career-high 10 starts.

appeared in all 16 games and had six catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Veteran Derrick Mason had six catches for 55 yards in seven games.

Wide Receivers in Review
Starters: Andre Johnson (9 games), Kevin Walter (14), Jacoby Jones (10)

Newcomers: Bryant Johnson (free agent), Derrick Mason (in-season trade), David Anderson (in-season free agent), (undrafted rookie)

Injuries: Andre Johnson (hamstring, Weeks 4-10, 13-16), Walter (shoulder, Week 2), (shoulder, preseason)

Notable number: 120 – Games it took Andre Johnson to reach 700 career receptions, making him the second-fastest player to the milestone in NFL history (Marvin Harrison, 114) and 35th player overall. Johnson’s 700th catch came on an eight-yard pass from rookie quarterback T.J. Yates in the third quarter at Jacksonville in Week 12.

Season highlight: Week 14 at Cincinnati – On a play that will long rank as one of the most memorable in Texans history, Walter caught the game-winning six-yard touchdown pass from Yates with two seconds remaining to complete a thrilling 20-19 comeback victory – a victory that clinched the Texans’ first AFC South title. Walter was wide open over the middle on the play, which came on second-and-goal and capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive. Walter had six catches for 76 yards in the game against his former team.

Quotable: “There is going down, and then there is going down.  The way he went down was deflating because it was like he just got shot, so that scares the heck out of you.” – Texans coach Gary Kubiak on Andre Johnson on Oct. 2, after Johnson went down untouched with a hamstring injury against the Steelers at Reliant Stadium

“I gave him a ball. He’s a great player, and he’s going through a tough time right now. I’ve watched him stick with this organization for nine years, and I wanted his teammates to know how proud we are of him.” – Kubiak on Johnson on Dec. 11, after the Texans clinched the division at Cincinnati; Johnson was inactive with a hamstring injury

“You have to execute or you lose the football game. That’s what it’s all about… We got it done when it counted.” – Walter on Dec. 11, after catching the game-winning pass at Cincy

“I could stay up here all day talking about that kid. He’s a man, now. You’re going to get the same thing every day or every week. I got on the elevator with him at the hotel Saturday night, me and a couple of the coaches, and he was white as a ghost, didn’t look very good. We asked him how he was doing. He said, ‘Coach, I’m fine. I’m ready to go.’ That’s Kevin.” – Kubiak on Walter on Dec. 12; Walter missed practice the previous Friday with an illness, rendering him questionable for the Bengals game

“I said the day that I was drafted that this was something that I wanted to be a part of.  It’s a very special feeling. It’s probably the most that I have smiled in a long time.” – Johnson on Jan. 7, after catching six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals in the first playoff game in Texans history

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Thursday notebook: Injuries aplenty for Jags, Texans

Late-season injuries have shaken up the Texans and Jaguars’ lineups heading into their regular-season finale at Reliant Stadium.

The Jaguars already know they’ll be without quarterback David Garrard, who has a finger injury in his throwing hand. They also could be without Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who has yet to practice this week because of a knee injury that sidelined him in Week 16.

Fourth-year quarterback Trent Edwards will start in Garrard’s place.

“I just studied him coming out of college (at Stanford),” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said on Thursday. “He’s got a very good arm and moves very well, so he fits what they do. So I imagine that we’ll see the same stuff they do with David.”

The Texans placed rookie linebacker on injured reserve on Wednesday and ruled out rookie cornerback on Thursday. will start at middle linebacker in Sharpton’s place. Wide receiver will be counted on to contribute with ’s status up in the air.

“We probably are going to have some new faces step up,” Kubiak said. “We’ve just got to go out there and play with the same effort we’ve been playing with and we’ve got to find a way to make a few more plays. They are a very physical football team. Every time we get together with them, it’s very physical. Our focus is good today.”

Milestones within reach
Despite the Texans’ disappointing 5-10 record, running back and quarterback have a chance to achieve rare statistical milestones on Sunday.

Foster needs 56 rushing yards and four receiving yards to become the sixth player in NFL history with 1,500 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards in the same season. Schaub needs 103 passing yards to become the fifth player in history with 9,000 yards in a two-year period.

“We talk about having balance as an offense, and… (that) tells you that we went out there and got some of those things accomplished,” Kubiak said. “It says a lot about the job that has been done by a lot of people, but the credit needs to go to those guys up front. They’ve done a hell of a job.”

Under the direction of John Benton, the Texans’ offensive line has paved the way for Foster to lead the league in rushing this season. They helped Schaub lead the league in passing in 2009.

Support for Kubiak
A day after former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips gave a ringing endorsement of Kubiak, players also came to his defense in the locker room on Thursday.

“I think he’s done so much for this organization,” tight end said. “The Texans weren’t winners until he came in. We haven’t been a losing team for three years until things kind of didn’t work out for us this year. But he’s really turned the culture around here. He’s gotten the right guys in here to get where we want to get. That probably goes a little unnoticed or is overlooked just because all of the things that have happened this year.”

Jacoby Jones was asked if the best statement the team can make in favor of keeping Kubiak would be to go out and win on Sunday.

“We love Coach,” Jones said. “He’s a great coach. He’s one of the best coaches I ever had. If that what it takes, we are going to go out and bust our behinds and get this W.”

Health check
Kicker (right hamstring) did not practice for the second consecutive day, but that has been the norm in recent weeks. Johnson (ankle) was the only other Texan to sit out.

Defensive tackle (knee), linebacker (knee/foot), tight end (hamstring), defensive tackle (ankle) and safety (shoulder) were limited in practice.