His body makes creaking noises when Vince Wilfork gets out of bed each morning.
He jokes that "stuff pops" that he didn't even know was supposed to pop.
"I can't roll out of bed like I did ten years ago and just be ready to go outside and start running," Wilfork said. "That doesn't happen anymore. I have to touch my toes a little bit now, stretch out the back, make sure the shoulders are loose. When I walk I have a few cracks here and there."
Despite the jokes about his aging body, Wilfork knows it's not time to call it quits.
The All-Pro nose tackle, entering his 13th year in the NFL, has asked the question that all professional athletes ask themselves.
"I was asking (Linebackers Coach Mike) Vrabel before, 'how do you know when it's time to let go?' He said 'trust me, you'll know.' And right now, it's not time. I mean I feel good. When he told me that, I just started realizing and thinking about, 'okay is there anything that I feel or did that I can't do,' and the answer was no."
Vrabel and Wilfork were teammates for five seasons in New England (2004-08). Vrabel pursued a career in coaching after 14 seasons in the NFL and earning three Super Bowl rings. Wilfork, a two-time Super Bowl champion himself, knows the time isn't right to hang up his cleats. His love and passion for the game keep him wanting more.
"Until I feel like I can't perform at a certain level or my body can't take it, or I'm mentally not there anymore, it'll be time for me to hang it up, but I think I have a couple good more years in me to continue to go as long as my body stays healthy and mentally I'm there," Wilfork said. "I think mentally, for me, mentally, it will go before my body will."
When that desire to play disappears from football, No. 75 will too. Until then, he'll continue to push his body to the limit, creaks and all, and strive for more. During this year's OTAs and veteran minicamp, Wilfork took his fair share of reps on the practice field, maybe more than in the past.
"Have to talk to Billy O (Head Coach Bill O'Brien) about that," Wilfork said, smiling. "When it's time to work, I work. That's one of the things I never shy away from work. I never shy away from getting better. I always attack each season. How can I get better. What I need to do before I can start talking to anybody else. I have to make sure I'm okay. Things I think I need to be a better teammate."
This week, the Texans capped off their nine-week offseason program that began April 18. The team will report back for training camp at the end of July.
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork's NFL career is chronicled.