Remember it or not, Kevin Walter is one of the Texans' starting wide receivers.
With all the intrigue surrounding young receivers Lestar Jean, Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey and the injuries to Andre Johnson this offseason, Walter was a forgotten man in the media narrative about the team.
"Maybe you guys think that," Walter said to a throng of reporters at his locker at Reliant Stadium on Wednesday. "I don't feel like I'm the forgotten guy. I'm out there making plays in practice. You've just got to be patient in the game. That's what it's all about, but you better be ready to make a play."
Take it from quarterback Matt Schaub: Walter is very much an important part of the Texans' offense.
"I think Kevin's one of the most underrated guys that we've got," Schaub said. "He's the 'Mr. Do Everything.' He's always in the right spot, does everything a thousand miles an hour. He does so much for us in the run game. In the pass game, if you put it in a spot, he's going to go make the play for you. He's going to make you look good as a quarterback. I've got a ton of confidence in him. We know what he brings to the table."
Just what does Walter bring to the table? He catches nearly everything thrown his way. He's a technician as a route runner. He's an outstanding blocker in the running game. He plays on special teams, even in his 10th season in the league.
Walter, who turned 31 during training camp, also brings consistency. He has started at least 14 games in each of the last five seasons, a total of 75 starts – 10 more than any other Texans player since 2007.
Last season, Walter injured his shoulder in Week 1, and it was widely reported he would miss 10-12 weeks with a broken collarbone. He sat out for one game.
"We thought he was going to miss a lot of time," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think he ended up missing one game. That's Kevin; he's going to do everything he can for his team."
Walter had 39 catches for 474 yards in 2011, his lowest totals as a full-time starter. Critics cite it as evidence that his skills are on the decline. But the numbers don't account for his shoulder injury, or the fact that Schaub was on injured reserve for the final six games.
Walter had just one catch for nine yards this preseason. Critics point to it as evidence that he's being phased out of the offense. But the numbers don't account for the fact that Walter played only about 60 total snaps as the Texans took a good look at Jean, Martin, Posey and their other young receivers.
"We rotated our receivers in the preseason," Kubiak said. "I know what Kevin can do. We know he's going to be in the right spot. If the coverage dictates that's where we got to go, then Matt will go to him. But Kevin's had an excellent camp. He's been there every day. He's huge for our offense because he does so many things for us, and he'll do them again this year."
Walter knows there's a youth movement underway in the Texans' receiving corps, and he has been happy to help mentor his younger counterparts. He also expects to have a big season of his own. As always, he's ready for anything the Texans throw his way.
"No doubt, I'm the old, grizzled vet, for sure," Walter said. "But I'm going to go out there play my role on this team and go out there and make plays and do my job. Everyone has a niche on their team. I'm just glad to be a part of it."
As for his under-the-radar offseason?
"I've been flying under the radar my whole life," Walter said. "It doesn't bother me one bit. You can probably ask me that next year, too. I'm out there just trying to get better each year, just trying to help this team win football games."