Andre Johnson missed nine games last season with hamstring injuries. He missed organized team activities this spring because of arthroscopic knee surgery. He missed a week of training camp with a pulled groin. He missed part of the third preseason game because of soreness in his chest.
That was last season. That was the offseason. That was the preseason.
"The real games are finally here," Johnson said on Wednesday. "I'm excited about it, and I'll be ready to go on Sunday."
Johnson, 31, is entering his 10th season in the NFL. The Texans' All-Pro wide receiver has been followed all offseason long by questions about his injuries and age.
He has heard those questions, those doubts about his ability. And he puts zero stock in them.
"I don't really get caught up in that," Johnson said. "I said that coming into camp, that everybody is saying that I'm old and I probably can't play no more and that I'm injury-prone. Things happen. That was out of my control. I can't control that. I can't control what happens. I think, as players, if we could control that, there wouldn't be any injuries. It happens and I move on from it.
"When I'm out on the field, as you see in preseason when I was able to play, I went out and made plays. People can say what they want. I really don't care."
Johnson was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Kevin Walter said he looks "great" on the practice field. Walter, Johnson's teammate since 2006, also said it's readily apparent that Johnson is fired up – perhaps even more so than usual – for the upcoming season.
"He's making plays out there today and he's ready to roll," Walter said on Wednesday afternoon. "I was talking with him (Wednesday morning), and he was all excited. He came in, 8 o'clock team meeting, he had a big smile on his face, he was talking and he was ready to roll. And he never talks; you know that. So he's excited."
Johnson has been with the Texans for nine of the team's 10 seasons of existence. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls and twice led the league in receptions and receiving yards, but he didn't experience a winning season until 2009. His first taste of the playoffs came last season.
Now, the Texans are widely viewed as Super Bowl contenders. Johnson has long been driven to help the franchise win its first championship, and he said Wednesday that he feels a sense of urgency and knows "the window is not as big as it used to be."
What better time than now?
"With what he's been through, you've only got so many in you," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I know how hard he's worked to help this organization be successful, how hard he's worked to be a great player, and I think all of us – coaches, players – are all rooting for him to stay in one piece. Because if he does, he's going to play great. That's just the way he is."