- Associated Press - Thursday, August 5, 2010

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Texans are close to signing All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson to a new contract.

Johnson did not speak to reporters after Thursday morning’s practice, but coach Gary Kubiak said the two sides were “awfully close” to an agreement.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and he’s what this game is all about,” Kubiak said. “What he’s been doing has been special and there’s a lot more to come, so that’s exciting for all of us.”

Johnson has led the league in receiving yards the past two seasons and topped 100 catches in three of the past four. He has the NFL’s highest receiving yards average (90.2 per game) since 2006.

The 29-year-old Johnson has five years left on his current $60 million contract. He wants a new deal that would make him the NFL’s highest-paid receiver.

Johnson has participated in training camp since it started because he didn’t want his contract situation to become a team distraction. Last week, team owner Bob McNair said he hoped to ink Johnson to a restructured contract within two weeks. McNair said Johnson deserves special consideration because of his high value with the franchise.

The Texans drafted Johnson third overall in 2003, and re-signed him to his current contract in 2007.

Houston finished with losing records in Johnson’s first four seasons as he blossomed into one of the NFL’s top receivers. He made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and ‘07, then led the league in receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,575) in 2008.

“For him to stay the course with this organization, through some tough, tough times says a lot about what Houston means to him and what this franchise means to him,” Kubiak said.

Johnson led the NFL with 1,569 receiving yards in 2009, and was quarterback Matt Schaub’s main target for the NFL’s top passing offense.

“He’s been a heck of a player for a number of years, and I’m pumped for him,” Schaub said. “It just shows that this organization, from the top down, we’re committed to keeping the players who are our nucleus. For him to get that (contract) says a lot about the type of player he is.”

Johnson caused a stir in the summer when he skipped three voluntary workouts and brought his desire for a new contract to light. He said after the first day of training camp on Friday that he wanted to concentrate on football and put the contract dispute out of his mind.

McNair said Friday that he was confident to have a new deal completed for Johnson within two weeks. McNair hopes to keep Johnson in Houston for his entire career and envisions the star receiver becoming the franchise’s first Hall of Fame inductee.

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