Fans believe this is Texans' season


The Texans and Titans are tied for the toughest schedule in the NFL. Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Cushing will miss the first four games. The starting running back position is up for grabs. The Texans are depending on a rookie cornerback.

Don't bother pointing possible problems for their heroes this season. Texans fans attending the team's open workouts at the Methodist Training Center don't want to hear it.

"This is the Luv ya Red, White and Blue era," long-time Houston pro football fan Emil Schunior said.

Schunior, watching a steamy Texans practice with his son, David, remembers the city's excitement in the late 1970s-early 1980s when the Luv Ya Blue Houston Oilers captivated Houston football fans.

"I don't think you can replace those times, but I hope so," Schunior said.

Fans are dreaming at an all-time high, even more so than a year ago when a winning record and a playoff berth appeared to be within reach. A slow start and fast finish gave the Texans their first winning record (9-7) and they fell just short of their first-ever playoff spot.

That's what fans are talking about.

"We are looking forward to building on that 9-7 record we had last year," Jay Wright said.

But what about that tough schedule?

"They are playing some tough teams that were in the playoffs last year and I think if we can compete and even beat those teams, there's no reason we shouldn't be in the playoffs," Wright said.

Fans are hoping the Texans will play like the team that ended last season and not the one that started last season with a deflating loss to the New York Jets.

Bruce Sander of League City sees only one path for the Texans.

"It has to be (playoffs), they have the team in place," Sander said. "If they don't do it this year, there will be some changes. They brought some defensive guys in that they needed. Getting (Bernard) Pollard back was a big move. That guy is fiery. I love that guy.

"The whole city is looking forward to it. The first four weeks are going to make or break them again this year."

The Texans have no easy start. They host Indianapolis in the opener, travel to Washington and return to face the Cowboys in the first three games.

"I know there is some disappointment with the fans of Cushing missing the first four games," David Schunior said. "I think the experience we had last year with almost making the wild card and that four-game push we had at the end of the season, it's a good starting point for this season, to keep the ball rolling."

Army Sgt. Mike Magallan of Victoria, Texas, has returned from Afghanistan and currently is in training at Fort Polk, La. That doesn't keep him from making weekend jaunts to watch the Texans at training camp.

"Everybody is excited," Magallan said. "It looks like this is going to be the year that they finally break into the playoffs.

"Last year was pretty exciting, but this year is almost double."

The players did so well, especially at the end of last year with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson impressing at the Pro Bowl.

"It looks like they will roll into this year and beat Indy in Week 1," Magallan said.

Magallan's brother, Christopher, also an Army sergeant, has just completed a year in Iraq and he's ready for some football.

"Coming out here, I see the fans are really hyped up," Christopher said. "I've got a real good feeling about this season. It seems like it's going to be a really great season. It's just the team in general. Last year was a great season, but there are higher expectations (now)."

David Schunior believes the Texans' offense will build on the passing attack from last season.

"We had the leading passer and receiver in the league with our offense and hopefully with the addition of the corner (Kareem Jackson) and Cushing comes back the defense will get rolling," he said. "Hopefully, we can win and show the league what we're made of and make the push to the playoffs."

Emil Schunior thinks the Texans' building process over the years is ready to pay off.

"The fans are excited. The team is excited. I think it's going to be a great year," he said. "The team is finally getting positioned and players are getting to where they need to be."


"For sure."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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