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Derek Carr's unusual Houston childhood

What Derek Carr remembers is Toro, the Texans' mascot, charging at him through the A-gap.

It was at halftime of a Texans football game in which Derek's older brother, David, was playing. Derek, then 12 years old, took the field for a game against the mascots. He pointed out the linebackers and everything, as if playing a real game.

"I’ll never forget that," Derek Carr said. "I remember he hit me, and he started laughing. We used to hang out and play catch at practice all the time, obviously when he wasn’t in costume. It was funny because he hit me, and he let me know he was there."

It was a surreal childhood for Carr, growing up in Houston where his big brother was the franchise's first No. 1 overall pick. Playing catch with mascots, with future hall of famers and with radio personalities. This week he'll face the team he grew up around, only this time he'll be the opposing starting quarterback.

He was a confident kid -- even a little bit cocky. Every time Andre Johnson walked out of the postgame locker room, Derek would be sitting there with a couple friends. He'd tell Johnson that one day he was going to go to Miami and be the quarterback at The U.

Johnson always figured the kid would follow in his brother's footsteps and go to Fresno State instead. Carr quipped Miami didn't want him.

"He did that, had a great career [at Fresno State]," Johnson said. "The one thing that stood out about him is he had a lot of confidence."

As the second first pick in franchise history, Johnson developed a bond with the whole Carr family. He went golfing with the patriarch and with David. He attended a few of Derek's middle school football games, too, able to blend in despite being Andre Johnson.

"I don't think too many people knew me then," Johnson said with a laugh.

It meant a lot to Derek.

"He was just always so nice to me," Derek said. "I was always bugging him, telling him I was going to go to Miami, all of these things. ... I remember him always taking the time to see how my season was going or like I said, he went to some of games, which is pretty cool. Not a lot of kids have a Hall of Fame receiver come to their football games."

The David Carr era in Houston ended in 2006. Johnson lost touch with the family after that. In the meantime, Derek did follow in his brother's footsteps at Fresno State. He became one of the country's top college quarterbacks, got married young and became a father, and then muddled through pre-draft critiques -- a little too heavily based on his brother -- to get to a place where he earned a starting job. (Read this excellent story from ESPN's Seth Wickersham on the two brothers.)

Johnson can't wait to catch up with Derek on Sunday in Oakland.

"Just ask him about the experience," Johnson said. "How was it? Stuff like that. Just ask him about the family. Used to go out and play golf with his dad and stuff like that. Me, him and David. They’re a really cool family and good people to be around."