Texans' Johnson to attend practice despite dispute

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson plans to rejoin the team after missing the first three voluntary practices over a contract dispute.

Johnson's uncle and agent Andre Melton told The Associated Press that he'll join the team at practice on Thursday after a meeting Wednesday with the team's front office that went "extremely well."

The news was first reported by Houston TV station KRIV and the Houston Chronicle.

Johnson, who has spent his entire career in Houston, is a leader for the Texans and hated being away from the team as it started practice this week.

"He's was like dying to get back," Melton said.

Johnson has five years left on an eight-year contract worth $60 million that included $15 million in guarantees. He is considered one of the top receivers in the NFL, but his contract doesn't place him among the highest paid players at his position with Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall earning significantly more.

The Texans redid his original contract three years ago when it had two years remaining.

Johnson's return is a smart move in dealing with a team that has had a policy under general manager Rick Smith to only negotiate with players who are participating in team activities. Melton seemed encouraged by his talk with team officials on Wednesday.

"I'm pretty sure it will be a win-win for everybody," he said when asked if he believes the two sides can agree to a deal that will make Johnson happy.

Johnson, the third overall pick in 2003, is entering his eighth season. He has led the league in receiving in each of the last two seasons.