Andre Johnson Impressive in First Titans Practice

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Andre Johnson agreed to terms with the Titans on Friday morning, then packed his bags for Nashville to start a whirlwind 24 hours.

He boarded a flight just after 6 p.m. in Texas, and his plane touched down in Tennessee at 8. He was inside Saint Thomas Sports Park at 9, signing his deal.

After a walk-through and meetings Saturday morning, the veteran receiver was catching footballs from Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota in practice later in the day.

It brought a smile to the face of the low-key, dependable veteran.

"I enjoy the game,'' Johnson, a seven-time Pro Bowler, said on Saturday. "I enjoy being around, and I enjoy helping guys. I have been playing this game since I was six years old and I enjoy every moment of it."

Johnson, who played last season with the Colts after spending his first 12 NFL seasons of his career with the Texans, practiced with his new teammates for the first time on Saturday as the Titans began training camp.

He looked good, making a number of nice catches on the day.

"He was real impressive,'' receiver Kendall Wright said of Johnson. "I think he'll be a big help to us. … I welcomed him, and I think everybody did, really. I think he has a lot in him. You saw out there today he was still Andre Johnson making plays."

During his 13-year NFL career, Johnson (6-3, 229) has appeared in 185 regular season games and accumulated career totals of 1,053 receptions, 14,100 receiving yards and 68 touchdown catches.

With the Titans, coach Mike Mularkey said he'll have a chance to earn a starting spot, and contribute.

Johnson said he'll do whatever he can to help.

"(I want to) go out there and be the best Andre I can be,'' Johnson said. "I stopped all that, setting goals on catches and all that stuff. My biggest thing is just winning, and that is what I am here to do, to help the team win."

A day earlier, Mariota said he was excited to have Johnson on the team.

"He's caught over 1,000 balls, and he's been to multiple Pro Bowls,'' Mariota said of Johnson. "He's done some of the things that a lot of us young players here want to aspire for. To kind of see that, to bring him in—he sounds like the type of guy that's going to kind of hopefully help us and guide us in that direction.

"He's made a living with jumping over a guy, making a catch, a lot of those back-shoulder throws. That allows us as a quarterback to throw in a huge target range and it makes our job a little easier."

Johnson made catches in traffic on Saturday, and he also made one of those over-the-shoulder catches Mariota was talking about.

Andre Johnson (#81) warms up for his first training camp practice with the Titans. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

Johnson, who ranks eighth in NFL history in receptions and ninth in league annals in receiving yards, is first among active players in both categories. His 51 career 100-yard receiving games are fifth in league history.

He said on Saturday he's thrilled the Titans wanted him.

"They felt like I could come in and help the team,'' he said. "At this stage in my career there wasn't many opportunities for me, and they gave me an opportunity and I jumped on it. I am just here to help out any way I can.

"I go out there and play the game hard every time I am out there. I don't have nothing to prove to anybody. I think my career speaks for itself."

Johnson said he was impressed with Mariota.

"He is great,'' Johnson said. "He is a great young quarterback, very smart, throws a great ball, and I can't wait to keep working with him."

Now, he wants to reward the Titans for giving him a chance.

Johnson appeared in all 16 games with 14 starts for the Indianapolis Colts.  He totaled 41 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns.

In 12 seasons with the Houston Texans (2003-2014), Johnson became the team's all-time leading receiver with 1,012 receptions for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns. He led the NFL in receiving yards in 2008 (1,575) and 2009 (1,569).

Johnson, who's 35, said he's been "working my butt off" since March.

"The way it is now, the league is becoming a lot younger,'' he said. "That's just the way it is and you have to adapt to it.

"I think it's a very talented group (here). There's a lot of talent in the room, you can see that on the field today. I was looking at each guy and what they can do. There's a lot of big receivers, too. I think it's a very talented group. … I want to do what I can do to help out any way I can."

 

Titans players take the field for Day 1 of training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Donn Jones Photography.com)

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