This is Part Four of our Training Camp Preview which will be released throughout the week.
The anticipation is growing for the Houston Texans as training camp grows near, while the expectations for the team also couldn't get any higher. Just like the majority of sports teams, the Texans look to be in their peak year to contend for the playoffs and beyond. As for some of the key players on the Texans, the window looks to be closing on a few careers as most NFL football players are retired by the age of 28. Looking at the team, the reality that the end is coming has to be in the back of their minds. A sense of NOW has to be motivation for this season, as this being the time to do it.
Despite being over the age of 30, the players we have put into our list are all key pieces to the success of the 2012 season. They all are on the right side of the 30s, but in football terms they are coming to the end of their career within the next three to five years. See what you think.
30 Plus Club
Matt Schaub- Contract year, coming off an injury, the starting quarterback of one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. If there is one player who the season hinges on, it has to be Schaub. If he can prove to stay healthy and lead this team further into the season than last year, expect him to be back for at least 3 more seasons. Everyone knows the effect he has on the offense and if there is any time to show what he is made of, the time is now.
Andre Johnson-The face of the franchise and he will be for the immediate future. In Johnson's worst professional season, his team had their best season in franchise history. Injuries are a huge concern for him, he hasn't played a full season since 2009 where he posted monster numbers. The offense is built with Johnson in mind and if the Texans can keep him healthy, the offense has zero excuse not to put points up on the board.
Chris Myers-After resigning with the Texans after the offseason, Myers made it known he was happy to be back in Houston. Myers is the signal caller for the offensive line and having him back only makes the transition to their new look 2012 offensive line a bit easier. Myers is a leader and is respected in the locker room, and him having a chance to end his career in the city that gave him a shot to be an NFL starter is a welcomed sight.
Antonio Smith- One of the most disruptive forces on the defensive line for this past season. The "Ninja" has two factors working against him, age and his contract numbers for the next two seasons which are worth $11.5 million dollars. A fan favorite, Smith stepped to the fore front in Wade Phillips' defensive scheme. If he can provide the same energy and play from his defensive end position as he did for the defense in 2011, the sky is the limit for the pass rush of the Texans.
Wade Smith-The free agent signing gem of the 2010 season from Kansas City has been a stabilizing force for the offensive line at left guard. Left tackle Duane Brown talked about the influence Smith had on his career as a player and how much he has helped him on and off the field. Smith at 30 years old is entering his second to last season on his current contract but, teamed with Myers and Brown, the left side of the offensive line is one of the best in football.