For the Houston Texans, Sunday can not get here soon enough, if for no other reason, so they can stop talking about 2013. Players echoed this sentiment in no uncertain terms when addressing the media after the team’s last open practice before the season kicks off Sunday versus Washington.

“I’m not really worried about nothing that happened last year. Every new season is a fresh start.” Andre Johnson said, “right now our record say 0-0. It doesn’t say 14 losses on it. I’m not really worried about it.”

They may not be worried about last season, but these guys are ready to see how they stack up against the rest of the NFL in live action. “You just want to get out there and play and go out and compete well and just see that all the work that put in and see where we are as a team. But you want to win the game. Go out there and put our best foot forward,” said Johnson.

Coach Bill O’Brien has stressed physical and mental preparation since taking over the team eight months ago. “It’s pro football; it’s the National Football League. We’ll give them a message before they hit the field. That’s for sure, but it’s more about the preparation during the week,” Coach said of what his first NFL pregame speech will be like. His team repeated that same message of preparation in interview after interview saying they are confident in the system and ready to play.

While they take a focused, business like approach to getting ready for the 2014 season, the anticipation for the first game of the year is special for players. “This week is a really exciting week. You’re through with the preseason. Everybody is healthy and getting ready to play. You get to game plan and you understand it’s for real. It’s just an exciting time, man. Just to go out there and go play,” DeVier Posey shared.

“I think any time you play a season opener, just anxious to get out there and play. I don’t think it really matters what year you’re in. You know, it’s the season opener. Everybody is excited to play games that count.” André Johnson said dispelling the myth that season openers become routine over time. It is clear that Johnson has learned to temper gameday emotions, and his teammates have taken note. DeAndre Hopkins said Johnson’s calm demeanor is why he is able to keep his cool when facing defenders like Washington’s DeAngelo Hall. Hopkins looks forward to going head-to-head with the veteran corner, but because of Johnson’s steady example, he is not intimidated by the Pro Bowl trash talker.

The healthiest roster in recent times is another reason for the Texans’ 2014 eagerness. Excluding Shiloh Keo, who did not practice Friday, and Garrett Graham, whose status is a pre game decision, Houston will be at full strength. Not even André could remember the last time that has been the case. O’Brien’s management of playing time is a big reason for the fresh squad. Open communication between trainers, players, and coaches is key to implementing O’Brien’s plan according to Johnson.

C.J. Fiedorowicz will get the start at tight end if Graham cannot go Sunday, and coach and players alike have no doubts the rookie is ready. O’Brien also announced that all running backs will see action in some capacity, but Arian Foster will get the bulk of the carries. Ryan Mallett says he is prepared if called upon even though he only arrived this week. It is not clear if Mallett will see action, but O’Brien says Danieal Manning definitely will.

“These guys that have played a lot of years in this league, Andre Johnson, Danieal Manning, Johnathan Joseph, Chris Myers, Duane Brown; these guys are able to pick up on new systems or new ways of doing things pretty quickly. I think that has a lot to do with their success in the league. They’re able to adapt and chance and learn. They’re bright guys. Manning has come in here and had a good week of practice, and you’ll see him in some capacity on the field on Sunday.”

Preparation and game planning will be on display Sunday at noon, but Brian Cushing says there is really only one way to move past 2013, “You win Sunday. It’s as simple as that. Last year was last year. It’s over. This is what’s great about football. Clean slate. Brand new opportunity to come out and play well and get a win.”

Follow Leslie on Twitter @LK_Comm!


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