Johnson back without promise of new deal

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HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans haven't promised Andre Johnson a new contract.

The star receiver practiced with the team Thursday after skipping the previous three voluntary workouts over a contract dispute, anyway.

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

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

Johnson met with owner Bob McNair on Wednesday and said he's ready to "move on." McNair said he made no guarantees beyond a commitment to discuss the contract, but was confident that 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 top receivers in the NFL, but his contract doesn't place him among the highest-paid players at his position. Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall earn significantly more. Johnson, the third overall pick in 2003, is entering his eighth season and has led the league in receiving in each of the last two seasons.

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 get a new deal.

"I don't really think you can really win against an organization," he 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."

McNair said Johnson and general manager Rick Smith will meet to discuss the contract as some point, but that 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."

Johnson has spent his entire career with the Texans. Team officials appreciate his work ethic and leadership and believe he showed character by joining the team without getting a new contract. McNair said he is 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.