The wide receiver and running back performed so well in OTA work Wednesday that Pagano claimed that it appeared they had been with the organization for years.
"Pretty seamless," Pagano said about their work. "They don't miss a beat as far as the playbook goes, knowing what to do. Every time I see them in the huddle, break a huddle, to me it looks like they're going the right direction. They're lining up right. They're very talented, talented guys. They fit right into the locker room. They're professionals. ... They're not talkers. They're workers, they're doers."
Both veterans, however, have shown signs that their best days are behind them. The 33-year-old Johnson failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving last season for Houston for the first time in his last seven full seasons. The 32-year-old Gore managed another 1,000-yard performance in 2014, but his total was its lowest of any in a full season since 2008.
Johnson, 33, joined the Colts this offseason after 12 campaigns in Houston, where he recorded 1,012 receptions, 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns to become one of the NFL's elite receivers.
Perennial Pro Bowl wideout
Johnson was surprisingly released by Houston, but revenge was not part of his game plan.
"(Leaving the Texans) hasn't even really set in," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I was just talking about that with someone (Thursday). Everybody thinks that I went to the Colts to try and get back at the Texans and stuff like that. That had nothing to do with it. I just went to the ... place where I felt was the best fit for me and where I can have a chance to win a championship.
"It wasn't about circling (game) dates or nothing against the Texans. I had 12 great years here. Been around some great people, built some great relationships, a lot of great friends. Houston's always going to be my home."
Johnson remained productive in 2014, but his yards-per-catch average declined to 11.0, its lowest since 2005.
Via ESPN.com, Pagano gushed over Johnson's ability as a pass-catcher. Though he may not have many years left to play at an NFL level, Pagano certainly believes the 6-3, 230-pound wideout can be extremely successful in his offense.
"He's got a big catch radius," Pagano said. "But again, the contested catches that you see on tape. It's very difficult to match up. There are few corners in the league that have length and size to match up but most are aren't on that size and they get pushed around a little bit."
Johnson's addition to Indianapolis comes after recording 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns during his time with the Texans. Since being taken third overall in the 2003 draft, Johnson, 33, has spent in his entire career with Houston, reaching the postseason only twice.
Now, in the later stage of his career, he joins a team fresh off of an AFC Championship appearance. And if teams want to roll coverages to T.Y. Hilton, then Johnson will make them pay, Pagano said.
"Certainly somebody (who's) an opponent can't just line up and say, 'Don't worry about Andre Johnson.' They're still going to have to tend to him if you will," Pagano said. "If they choose to double (Hilton) and take him out of the game, you have another guy on the other side, along with the rest of the guys on the roster who can still stretch the defense. He's a big, possession type guy. He makes contested catches in traffic."
"He's a big body guy that can still separate, create separation," Pagano said. "He's got a big catch radius. But again, the contested catches that you see on tape. It's very difficult to match up. There are few corners in the league that have length and size to match up but most are aren't on that size and they get pushed around a little bit. He's going to be able to bring that big, physical presence to us."
Johnson managed just 936 yards and three touchdowns on 85 receptions in 15 games in 2014, marking the first time he's played at least 10 games but not reached 1,000 yards since 2005. However, Pagano doesn't think Johnson has taken a step back.
"You don't see a huge dropoff numbers-wise," Pagano said. "Maybe in touchdowns. But you still see a guy who is more than capable of stretching the defense. Certainly somebody who an opponent can't just line up and say, 'Don't worry about Andre Johnson.' They're still going to have to tend to him if you will. If they choose to double [Hilton] and take him out of the game, you have another guy on the other side, along with the rest of the guys on the roster who can still stretch the defense. He's a big, possession type guy. He makes contested catches in traffic. He's got a big catch radius. A big body. Those guys are hard to defend."
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
Youth Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck Nike Royal Blue Team Color Game Jersey Shop Now!