Andre Johnson was down and now he's out — for a "week or so." Let's hope that the so lasts even longer than a week.
For the Houston Texans' lifeline wide receiver — the pro's pro who gives the offense another dimension — doesn't need to be out there in the early stages of his 10th training camp. It's easy to forget amid the unprecedented enthusiasm for Texans' football, with 5,000-plus showing up for every sold-out open practice, with celebrities like David Robinson coming out for the fun because the Methodist Training Center is the place to be . . . but there's an awfully long way till February.
Is it a good sign that the 31-year-old Johnson keeps having trouble with his legs? No, of course not. Whether it's his hamstring, his knee or now the groin that left him sprawled on the grass, getting examined by the Texans training staff at Sunday morning's practice, there is more than enough cause to wonder if this is the new pattern.
This idea that Johnson and Matt Schaub need to regain their timing is almost comical. Schaub is going to remember how to throw the ball to one of the best wide receivers in football.
But that still doesn't mean it's time to freak out.
The Texans don't need Andre Johnson for a full training camp. They don't even need him for a full 16 games during the regular season. Only his fantasy football owners do.
Think about it. If Houston is going to get where it expects to go, Johnson figures to be rested sooner or later. If the Texans don't have a playoff berth clinched heading into the final few weeks of the regular season, something will have gone wrong. Something that probably goes far beyond No. 80's health.
This is a team that's built to make a long run in the playoffs. It will need Johnson to do that. But it shouldn't be completely dependent on him to get there.
The Texans' star-on-the-rise defense and the best vegan tailback in NFL history should be able to push the team along. The talk of Johnson's injury being a "minor groin strain" isn't all that relevant in late July (and like most injury information released by professional sports franchises, it's probably open to interpretation).
It is good that Texans coach Gary Kubiak feels "very fortunate" about the results of Johnson's MRI though. Maybe now, he'll rest him even more.
Seriously. Is there any reason Andre Johnson needs to be practicing every day during training camp? Forget about just giving him the afternoon teaching sessions in the bubble off. Why not give him every other day completely off?
This idea that Johnson and Matt Schaub need to regain their timing is almost comical. Schaub is going to remember how to throw the ball to one of the best wide receivers in football when it counts no matter how much or how little the Greatest Texan Ever practices.
Heck, T.J. Yates found a way to keep getting the ball to Andre Johnson in the playoffs. How much timing did they have together?
Johnson now admits he didn't feel close to right in those playoffs. And he still caught 13 passes for 201 yards. He still broke open the first playoff win in Texans history by leaving a cornerback leaning toward Pearland on a 40-yard stop-and-go route.
Smart is waiting as long as possible. And then waiting some more.
There is no doubt Andre Johnson will show up in the big games. Kubiak and the Texans' medical staff just need to make sure they get him there.
Third-year cornerback Kareem Jackson — whose hamstring injury will receive one one-hundreth of the coverage of Johnson's groin — needs the reps much more than No. 80.
You're talking about one of the smartest and most athletically gifted players in the NFL. Andre Johnson can catch passes rolling out of bed.
It's a personal downer for Johnson, who wants to prove to everyone that he's not old and breaking down. Andre desperately wants another 1,500-yard season. But the Texans cannot let that drive trump the true goal.
It's no longer about September for these Texans.
If Johnson dominates in the games that count, if he's there for Schaub in the playoffs, no one's going to dwell on his full-season stats.
"Everybody's saying just be smart about it," Johnson said.
Smart is waiting as long as possible. And then waiting some more. If you're intent on having Andre Johnson carry your fantasy football team, by all means, panic.
Otherwise, just sit back and wait for the long run, wait for No. 80 to take over when it truly counts. It's not even August. The more rest — forced or not — Johnson gets, the better.