HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Texans hope Kevin Walter will become the receiver they've long looked for to take pressure off Andre Johnson.
Walter, who spent his first three seasons in Cincinnati, hasn't made much of an impact in four NFL seasons. But coach Gary Kubiak believes this could be his breakout year.
"I think what you're looking at right there is a player that earned the right to play," Kubiak said. "I went back and watched our film and it felt like if I gave Kevin Walter more chances to make plays, we win a few more games. That's what he is."
Walter appeared in each game last season with two starts and finished with 17 receptions for 160 yards.
Johnson made the Pro Bowl for the second time last season after catching 103 passes for 1,147 yards, both career highs.
Kubiak has been talking Walter up throughout the offseason, and he believes the 25-year-old has a positive attitude his team needs.
"He's an overachiever, a tremendous worker," Kubiak said. "His teammates can count on him. He's going to win out because of his work ethic in the long haul, and that's what we want around here."
Walter isn't daunted by Kubiak's expectations.
"I have a high standard for myself," Walter said. "I'm glad to get the opportunity. I'm glad he thinks that I deserve a chance to play and make some plays."
Walter has already made an impression on new quarterback Matt Schaub.
"Kevin's done a great job. He's a go-getter," Schaub said. "He wants to get better. He's a guy you want on your side. He knows his stuff and he's really coming along."
While Walter is the front-runner, there are other candidates for the spot, including free agent acquisition Andr Davis and rookie Jacoby Jones.
Davis had three solid years with Cleveland but didn't see much playing time during seasons in New England and Buffalo.
The Texans drafted Jones in the third round out of Division II Lane College and believe the former track star has potential, but he'll have to overcome his small college background.
"He is all over the map right now," Kubiak said. "He's made a few plays and he's got a few chewing outs, too. He's getting a great opportunity to help our football team. He's very talented."
But Jones is still adjusting to the demands of the NFL, Kubiak said.
"He gets frustrated, but he's got to realize it's not going to be easy and that's what we're trying to teach him right now," Kubiak said. "But he definitely fits in out here and it's exciting to see."
Jones realized quickly that one of the best ways to learn is to follow Johnson's lead.
"That guy is amazing," Jones said.
"You see he's that big and can move like that and run routes like that. I steal some of his things, but don't tell him that. I'm trying to steal his knowledge."