NFL Nation: Andre Johnson


IRVING, Texas -- Dez Bryant is right. He does deserve to be paid by the Dallas Cowboys. He has earned it.

The question is how will he be paid?

He is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He deserves to be in the conversation with the best receivers in the NFL, such as Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson and whoever else you want to add to the list. That doesn't mean he is at the top of the group just yet, but he deserves to be in the conversation.

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Should the Cowboys give Dez Bryant a long-term extension before the season starts?

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He is only 25. He has had more than 90 catches in each of the past two seasons. He has posted 1,382 and 1,233 yards the past two seasons, and he has caught 25 touchdown passes in that span. Those are elite numbers. And he went to his first Pro Bowl last season.

Bryant has improved each year on and off the field, and the Cowboys deserve praise for how they have helped guide him in certain manners. But Bryant deserves the most credit. He has developed close relationships with Jason Witten and Tony Romo. He has changed how he has operated.

He has become one of Jason Garrett’s guys. This year he will be asked to take more of a leadership role in the wide receivers’ meeting room with Miles Austin gone. He likes the responsibility and is not afraid of being “the guy.”

What will make or break a long-term deal for Bryant will be the structure of the contract. The Cowboys will want some insurance.

Most of the bigger deals for receivers revolve around large signing bonuses and lower base salaries in the first few years to help with the salary cap. But do the Cowboys follow that path? They want to keep Bryant hungry and happy. They have seen their past two big-time contracts for wide receivers (Roy Williams and Miles Austin) go up in smoke.

If something were to go awry with Bryant, the Cowboys don’t want to be in a position where they are hamstrung by the salary cap. With higher base salaries, the thinking is Bryant will have to remain motivated to make sure he cashes in every year. It also gives the team an out without killing them against the cap.

Believe it or not, the Cowboys can look at Terrell Owens’ deal in 2006 as a blueprint.

They structured Owens’ first contract with the Cowboys that way. In 2006, Owens received a $5 million signing bonus and $5 million salary in a three-year, $25 million deal. His base salaries in Years 2 and 3 were $7 million and $8 million. Owens had been upset at the structure of his deal when he signed with Philadelphia, which ultimately led him to the Cowboys after a hellacious year with the Eagles.

The Cowboys would want to avoid something similar with Bryant. His agent, Eugene Parker, has a good working relationship with the team, so there could be some common ground to find where Bryant is happy and the team is happy.
Running back Chris Johnson sent New York Jets fans into a Twitter frenzy Tuesday night, tweeting that the Jets should trade for disgruntled Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.



A Johnson & Johnson attack for the Jets? Catchy. For obvious reasons, owner Woody Johnson probably likes the sound of it, but this is strictly fantasy football chatter at this point.

It's highly unlikely the Texans would trade Johnson, their best offensive weapon and arguably the most accomplished player in franchise history. As promised, he skipped a voluntary practice Tuesday, intensifying the speculation about his future in Houston. Johnson, reportedly unhappy with the direction of the team, recently wondered if he's still a fit.

The Jets spent big money to sign Eric Decker, but they could still use another quality wideout -- and they don't come much better than Johnson. Despite a terrible quarterback situation, he caught 109 passes for 1,407 yards last season. Johnson is a pro's pro and would help the Jets on many levels.

But keep dreaming, Jets fans.

The cold reality is that Johnson turns 33 in July and he's still owed $33.5 million over the next three seasons -- a huge number even for the Jets, who have about $23 million in cap room. For cap purposes, it makes no sense for the Texans to trade Johnson. Also remember that new coach Bill O'Brien is a Bill Belichick disciple, which means he probably won't be eager to accommodate the selfish desire of one player if it hurts the team. And a trade would hurt the Texans because there's no way they'd get fair-market value in return for the effective, but aging, receiver. If they did decide to move him, it would make sense to send him out of the AFC.

Wednesday's Jets practice is open to the media, which means Johnson can expect a lot of questions about his tweet. It also wouldn't be a surprise if he receives a message from John Idzik, who may tell Johnson to leave the GMing to him. After all, Johnson's job is to accumulate yards, not players.

There's a reason not every great coordinator can become a great head coach, or sometimes even a mildly successful head coach.

The skills necessary for a head coach are exponentially greater than at assistant positions. He's the man who has to organize the day to day. He's the public face of the organization. He explains the victories and defeats. He has to win the locker room and garner its respect and obedience.

It takes a man who understands people and interpersonal dynamics.

Given the way Texans coach Bill O'Brien has handled Andre Johnson's absence so far, it's clear he does.

[+] EnlargeBill O'Brien
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderBill O'Brien has not allowed the Andre Johnson situation to become combative.
Johnson said two weeks ago that he was tired of losing and, as such, wasn't sure Houston was still the right organization for him. He said he hadn't asked for a trade or spoken to anyone about his contract, but he was thinking about things. He also said he wasn't going to attend organized team activities or the Texans' mandatory minicamp -- and he didn't attend the first day of OTAs.

Every time O'Brien has been asked about Johnson, he begins with the good.

"He and I have had positive conversations," O'Brien said Tuesday. "I have a ton of respect for him."

When the face of the franchise is upset, things can get awkward very quickly. It happened back in 2012 with the Jaguars when Maurice Jones-Drew held out for a new contract. The sides didn't communicate, they all felt slighted, and the new head coach, Mike Mularkey at the time, didn't hide his disdain much. In the end, neither got what he wanted and neither is still with the team.

Back when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was with the Denver Broncos, his relationship with new head coach Josh McDaniels began rockily. There were a lot of factors involved in the McDaniels/Cutler spat, but one that made things worse was McDaniels' rigid insistence that if he wanted to trade a player, even a quarterback who had just been named to the Pro Bowl, he could do it. In the end, again, neither got what he wanted and neither is still with the team.

Johnson v. Texans has taken on a much less combative tone and it's because both the disgruntled star and the new head coach have shown respect for each other. Part of that is O'Brien's understanding of how to deal with people.

Don't misunderstand that to mean he's a coach who coddles -- that couldn't be further from the truth. He'll scream at a guy who needs or deserves the yelling. But he seems to understand that not everybody needs to be handled in exactly the same way.

He could, when asked about Johnson, divert and gruffly reply that he only coaches the players who are there. Instead he acknowledges Johnson's career and Johnson's place in this franchise's history before going into the usual refrain about focusing on those who did participate in the voluntary workout.

"We’d love to have him here now," O'Brien continued Tuesday, after expressing his respect for the best player in Texans history. "That’s up to him. We’re moving forward with the players that are here. These guys are working extremely hard. That’s where it’s at."

In the first public test of his ability to act as the leader of an NFL team, O'Brien is behaving exactly like one should.


Bill Belichick's remarks to Sirius XM NFL Radio on backup quarterback Ryan Mallett sparked a discussion on ESPN's "NFL Insiders" show Friday.

Host Suzy Kolber asked ESPN senior analyst Chris Mortensen and former Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney for their analysis on the situation.

Mortensen detailed his thoughts, which he framed as "informed speculation," by saying that if second-round draft choice Jimmy Garoppolo "comes along and does quite well in OTAs and well into training camp, if somebody has a quarterback need or quarterback injury and they come calling and the Patriots feel good about Garoppolo, maybe Mallett is in play."

Kolber then asked Hurney how much teams really know about Mallett because he hasn't played much in the regular season from 2011-13.

"He was regarded highly enough as a quarterback coming out [in 2011], and I think the position creates interest in itself," Hurney answered. "I said this statement [from Belichick] is like if you ever go to dinner and a person says, 'I don't want dessert' so you order a chocolate cake and a big piece of chocolate cake comes out and all of a sudden you look and the other person is eating half of it. I think, if the chocolate cake looks good enough for Bill Belichick, they would be interested in trading Ryan Mallett."

Hurney then pitched his "perfect scenario" with the Houston Texans, while noting that any team trading for Mallett would need to extend his contract, which expires after the 2014 season.

"If I was the Texans, I would see if they were interested in Andre Johnson and say we would take a draft pick and throw Ryan Mallett in. So even if Ryan Mallett does not work out, you have the draft pick. [They're] rebuilding, really shooting for Year 3. Andre Johnson is 32 years old, doesn't have anyone proven throwing him the ball, so take that shot -- you get the draft pick, and if Ryan Mallett works out, you extend him and have your quarterback of the future."

There are questions you know you have to ask, and ones whose answers you assume you know.

So when Texans receiver Andre Johnson was asked today during a charity event about having missed the Texans' voluntary minicamp, I didn't expect him to say much. He's one of the most honest and professional players in that locker room, but he often downplays conflict.

Johnson
The question was asked -- why weren't you at minicamp? -- and oh boy did he drop a bomb:

"When you've been somewhere for a long time, nobody's been here as long as I have -- I've been thinking about things this offseason, kind of wonder sometimes is this still the place for me."

Johnson made clear he hasn't asked for a trade and said explicitly that this isn't about his contract. But he said he's told the Texans how he feels: frustrated. He said right now he does not plan to attend organized team activities or the Texans mandatory minicamp.

It's quite a statement from the longest-tenured Texan, and Johnson wouldn't have made it if his frustrations hadn't reached an apex.

Recall, last season the most visible frustration we saw from Johnson came during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders. Schaub yelled at Johnson about stopping his route, Johnson yelled back at Schaub, and then Johnson walked off the field. After that game Johnson was asked if he still wants to be in Houston. "I'm under contract," he replied. Not exactly a warm, fuzzy endorsement of the organization.

But after cooling off from that moment, Johnson insisted that interaction was overblown. His future comments were much less biting about the organization and he's consistently maintained since then that he always had a good relationship with Schaub.

Now he's looking around at what seems like a rebuilding process to him.

"Some people say it's not rebuilding, some people say it's a quick fix," Johnson said. "Everybody has their own opinion."

Johnson turns 33 in July -- not an age when rebuilding projects are appealing. He's only been to the playoffs twice, and isn't sure when he'll get back there again.
Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson Getty ImagesGreen Bay Packers receivers Randall Cobb (18) and Jordy Nelson are both in line for raises as they enter the final season of their current contracts.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- At some point in the next 11 months -- likely sooner rather than later -- the Green Bay Packers will extend the contracts of receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson.

Between now and when they scribble their names on their new deals there will be much discussion about each player's value.

Myriad factors come in to play during contract negotiations, but the most important ones are production, injury history (which is usually tied to production) and age (which can be tied to injury history).

Another factor you might hear thrown around when it comes to Cobb and Nelson is the unscientific term "No. 1 receiver" -- as in should either one or both be paid like one?

In an ESPN Insider piece, former NFL scout Matt Williamson helped define exactly what that term means .

He came up with four characteristics:

  • They need to have the ability to separate from man coverage, understand how to find the soft spots in zones and have very strong athletic traits.
  • They need to be strong, fast and play big, which often -- but not always -- can eliminate shorter wide receivers from this equation.
  • They must be productive, even when opposing defenses are scheming to take them out of the equation; No. 1 receivers can be uncoverable and never come off the field.
  • They must display the above traits with consistency.

What was perhaps most interesting about Williamson's list is that he came up with only 14 players in the NFL who fit his criteria.

"The term 'No. 1 receiver' is often thrown around loosely, but to me, there certainly are not 32 No. 1 receivers in the league just because every team has a favorite target," Williamson wrote.

Also, Williamson had two tight ends -- New England's Rob Gronkowski and New Orleans' Jimmy Graham -- among his 14.

Among his 12 receivers, only four were among the NFL's top-10 highest-paid receivers (see the accompanying chart). They were: Detroit's Calvin Johnson (No. 1), Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald (No. 2), Chicago's Brandon Marshall (No. 6) and Houston's Andre Johnson (No. 8).

However, six of the 12 are still playing under their rookie contracts and will be in line for significant raises on their next deal.

Back to the cases for whether Cobb and Nelson belong in that same category as they enter the final season of their current contracts.

According to Williamson, one of them should be considered a No. 1 receiver and the other is close. Also, it's possible for one team to have two No. 1 receivers, Williamson wrote, as is the case with the Bears (Marshall and Alshon Jeffery).

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Nelson cracked the list at No. 13 under the heading "Just ask their quarterbacks if they are No. 1 receivers." Williamson also put San Francisco's Michael Crabtree in that same category.

"With great size for the position, he is often mistaken for a possession weapon, however only three receivers converted more receptions of 20 or more yards last year, Williamson wrote of Nelson. "His deep speed and big-play ability is vastly underrated, but Nelson also is Aaron Rodgers' go-to target when Rodgers needs a first down and has always proven to be reliable.

"Nelson had his best season in 2013, accumulating over 1,300 receiving yards, and bear in mind that he was playing without Rodgers for much of that time. He isn't a product of the system or his surroundings and would be great in any environment."

Nelson's next contract will be his third. Midway through the 2011 season, he signed a three-year extension that averaged $4.2 million per season. That average ranks 32nd among all NFL receivers in 2014.

Williamson ranked Cobb among 11 players who he termed as "close but not quite" No. 1 receivers.

Cobb, who like Nelson was a second-round pick, is entering the final season of his rookie contract. Two factors likely kept Cobb out of Williamson’s top 14: his size (5-10, 192) and that he missed 10 games last season because of a fractured tibia.

But in 2012, Cobb caught 80 passes despite missing one game, and there is room for growth. He is entering his fourth season but won't turn 24 years old until late in training camp this summer, making him more than 5 years younger than Nelson, who turns 29 in May.
There is no doubt the San Francisco 49ers are interested in adding a receiver.

Johnson
They checked in on several during free agency and the position is expected to be an early priority in the May 8-10 draft. So it’s no surprise that in an Insider piece, Field Yates, while proposing five trades that makes sense, explains why he thinks the 49ers should acquire a receiver. Insider

In Yates’ first proposal, he has the 49ers trading for Houston receiver Andre Johnson. He has the 49ers sending the Texans second- and fifth-round picks to the Texans for Johnson.

Here is Yates' reasoning for the 49ers making this swap:
In need of a wide receiver -- and with 11 picks in this draft -- the 49ers would be well-served to add Johnson. He has a manageable base salary of $6.5 million for 2014, an amount for which San Francisco could find cap space. The 49ers have a deep and talented roster, and while draft picks can result in young, affordable talent, the truth is there aren't that many spots available on the 53-man roster in San Francisco. Johnson brings a vertical presence to the perimeter passing game and would make an already Super Bowl-caliber team that much scarier.


My thoughts? Again, like Yates wrote, don’t expect it to happen. But I can see why he is proposing it. For the short term, this would make the 49ers very difficult to defend and make the offense more explosive. A receiving trio of Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Johnson, along with tight end Vernon Davis, would give quarterback Colin Kaepernick all kinds of options. It would be a pretty nice to way to attack Seattle’s super secondary as well. So, while this proposal is likely more fantasy than reality, it seems plausible from a need standpoint.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars had the least-talented roster in the NFL in 2013.

Based on what head coach Gus Bradley was able to do in the second half of the season and the success of general manager David Caldwell's first draft, there is a lot of optimism that the Jaguars will make progress in 2014. It won't be a turnaround similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs made from 2012 to 2013, but the Jaguars should be significantly better next season.

They aren't the only team in that situation, though. During the NFL Nation season wrap-ups, eight bloggers among the 20 who cover non-playoff teams said the teams they cover are trending up heading into the offseason: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Jacksonville, Houston, Tennessee, St. Louis and the New York Jets.

Some, like the Cardinals and Steelers, were close to making the playoffs in 2013. Others, such as the Texans, Jaguars and Rams, didn't even come close. But all of those teams should take steps forward in 2014.

The eight bloggers got together, thanks to Bills reporter Mike Rodak, and ranked those eight teams based on their chances of making the playoffs next season. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars finished last. Yes, behind a Texans team that is riding a 14-game losing streak.

Houston had the league's worst record in 2013, but the Texans do have some talent on the roster -- led by J.J. Watt, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson -- and need only a piece or two to become a playoff team again. Quarterback is the top priority, of course, but a change in leadership from Gary Kubiak to Bill O'Brien also could provide the boost the Texans need to make them a factor in the AFC South again.

The Jaguars went 4-4 in the second half of the season (two victories came against Houston) but they have so many needs and holes to fill that it'll be another season before they can realistically make a playoff run. Caldwell and Bradley have to find a quarterback, a pass-rusher, a running back and outside linebackers. They have to beef up the interior of the offensive line and add quality depth at defensive tackle.

It wouldn't hurt to add a big, physical receiver to the roster, either.

I have a feeling that if players could choose their own teammate, every one of the Houston Texans would have chosen Andre Johnson as the player they'd most like to see in the Super Bowl.

He's the longest-tenured Texans player, having been with the franchise since its second year, and has shared with his teammates the trials that have come with that.

But when we surveyed 320 players from around the league, they were told to choose one active non-teammate who has never played in the Super Bowl. Johnson still received 14 votes, ranking him fifth behind Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Falcons retiring tight end Tony Gonzalez, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who received votes from 15 players who will be happy to see him there this season.

Peterson (59 votes) and Gonzalez (56) were close at the top.

You get one guess on the other Texans player to get votes.

Yup, four players chose defensive end J.J. Watt.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson topped the list in an ESPN NFL Nation survey of the player those polled would most like to see play in a Super Bowl.

Peterson received 59 votes to edge Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez by three votes.

More than 320 NFL players took part in an anonymous, comprehensive survey with Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson finishing third (26 votes) followed by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (15), Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (14) and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (11).

The voting, which aimed to identify worthy players who have never made a Super Bowl, took place before Wilson led Seattle to this year’s title game.

That Peterson beat out Gonzalez is a bit of a surprise to me considering how well-known it was that 2013 would be the latter’s final season in the NFL. Both Gonzalez and Peterson were first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famers but Peterson would appear to have his share of chances to play in a Super Bowl -- assuming the Vikings can ever get a quarterback to pair with the transcendent running back.

That Peterson finished first in the survey isn’t just a testament to his greatness but also the respect he earned for rushing for more than 2,000 yards in 2012, less than a year after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.

Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery received two votes in the survey.
PHILADELPHIA – In helping conduct ESPN.com’s NFL Confidential survey, I ran into an amusing little situation in the Eagles locker room.

When asked the one player they would most like to see in the Super Bowl, a few guys actually bristled. They didn’t want to see anyone from another team in the Super Bowl.

“That means we aren’t in it,” several players said. A few compromised by considering only AFC players, because the Eagles could then be in the Super Bowl at the same time.

Just shows the mindset of the NFL player. It also helps explain why only one of the 10 Eagles I surveyed named Minnesota Vikings running Adrian Peterson, who was the No. 1 vote-getter league-wide. The Eagles hadn’t yet played the Vikings at the time of the survey.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was one of the players most often named around the league, although he received a fraction of the votes amassed by Peterson and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Three Eagles voted for Gonzalez, maybe because the Falcons were out of the playoff picture by then. Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson got two votes, while Philip Rivers got one.

Of course, those last two guys play in the AFC.
PHILADELPHIA -- Unlike the first two categories in our NFL Nation survey, the Philadelphia Eagles' results were markedly different from the national totals when it came to naming the most respected player in the NFL.

Nationally, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was the runaway winner. Although he beat Philadelphia 52-20 early in the 2013 season, the 10 Eagles polled did not name Manning.

Indeed, they didn’t show much of a consensus on anyone. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson was the only player to get two votes from the Eagles. One player said he had the most respect for the guys who play special teams and run the scout team in practice.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick got one vote. So did London Fletcher, Calvin Johnson, Tamba Hali, Andre Johnson, Ed Reed and Earl Thomas.

All-AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The Indianapolis Colts didn’t have a problem against teams in the AFC South this season. They went a perfect 6-0, and four of those victories were by eight points or more.

You wouldn’t have known that the Colts won the division just by looking at ESPN.com's All-AFC South team, because they had only six players on it. The Houston Texans had the most players named to the team with eight. The Texans opened the season with the talent to possibly make the Super Bowl, but their season turned into a disaster, as they lost their final 14 games.

Tennessee Titans receiver Kendall Wright edged out Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton to be the second receiver named to the team behind Houston’s Andre Johnson. Wright had more catches than Hilton, but the Colts receiver had more yards -- barely -- and more touchdowns than Wright.

An argument could be made that the Colts deserve more than six players on the team, but they’ll gladly take their current situation -- the playoffs -- over Houston’s.

Upon Further Review: Texans Week 16

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Four hot issues from the Houston Texans' 37-13 loss to the Denver Broncos:

Johnson's day: Andre Johnson became only the second player in NFL history to have five seasons with at least 100 catches (matching Broncos receiver Wes Welker). He came into Sunday's game with 99 catches. Because of a combination of missteps by both he and quarterback Matt Schaub, Johnson caught only four passes on his 13 targets. Last week, Johnson had just four catches on 10 targets. One of his targets against the Broncos was a play that should have ended in a touchdown. Schaub threw what appeared to be a perfectly placed pass that Johnson dropped. He said it was a play he should have made, but added that the ball came quickly and the sun in his eyes (through the rare open roof) didn't make it easier. Johnson said Schaub told him after the play that he had thrown it a little bit early. What took the edge off for both of them was that Schaub threw a touchdown pass to Keshawn Martin right after that. "Keshawn bailed me out," Johnson said.

[+] EnlargeHouston's Andre Johnson
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderAndre Johnson was targeted 13 times, but had just 4 catches for 63 yards.
Bullock continues redemptive streak: Neither the Texans nor kicker Randy Bullock gave up on the belief that he would eventually figure things out after a rough start to the season. On Sunday, Bullock made two, giving him 11 straight made field goals -- the sixth-longest such streak in franchise history.

Four-man front designed to force the pass: Sometimes the talk of the Texans' coaching search gets bogged down in the details of whether the next coach will change the defense. I don't think a schematic change would be all that difficult for the Texans as interim head coach/defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' defense is much more of a hybrid than a pure 3-4. Sunday's game was a good example of that. "We played a bigger group against them because we didn't want them to run the football, which they didn't really run the football," Phillips said. "We wanted to force them to throw the ball and obviously they did that. You really have to get them into third downs. I thought we played really well on third down." The Broncos only converted 2 of 11 third downs. And before you scoff at the idea of forcing the Broncos to throw, remember that it worked for a lot of the game. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's brilliant fourth quarter had the help of some very favorable field position.

Frustrating, disappointing, forgettable: Frustrating might be the most-used word in the Texans' locker room this season. Defensive end J.J. Watt used it Sunday. "It’s been frustrating. It has been disappointing to say the least and it has been very forgettable. It is something that we never want to happen again, that is for sure."

What Texans players play for now

December, 17, 2013
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The Houston Texans can't make the 2013 NFL playoffs and they can't save their head coach's job. And after last week's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, it's less likely they can help their defensive coordinator move from interim head coach to regular head coach, despite his winning record as a head coach.

I asked several players Sunday evening: What do you play for now?

WR Andre Johnson, 11th season: "I'm just trying to win. Trying to end this streak. That's pretty much it. I only play the game for one reason and that's to win and hopefully one day win the Super Bowl. So other than that, I don't really set any personal goals or anything like that."

RB Ben Tate, 4th season: "I'm playing to get a W. I play because I love the game, I love doing this."

TE Ryan Griffin, 1st season: "Anytime you play, it's on film. So at this point we're playing for pride right now. You've got to put the right stuff on film. Everybody sees that, everybody in the NFL. It doesn't matter what your record is it is each play. So that's what we're playing for."

CB Johnathan Joseph, 8th season: "My pride. That's what I play for each and every week. My pride overrides everything else because I just want to go out there and play good, winning football from the beginning of the whistle to the end of the whistle. So I think it's about pride. Going out there and putting winning football on tape."

LG Wade Smith, 11th season: "I play for the fact that I love playing football. I want to win. I know if I play well, it's contributing to helping us get a win. If the offensive line plays well, then it's contributing to us getting a win. And we just go from there."

RT Derek Newton, 3rd season: "For my team. Myself. We're trying to get Ws each week."

OLB Brooks Reed, 3rd season: "Play for? Pride. Self respect."

ILB Darryl Sharpton, 4th season: "I play for my teammates. I play for my coaches. I play for Bryan Braman, Joe Mays, all the guys in the linebacker room. Reggie Herring, all my coaches. I mean, that's what you play for. It's your job. It's an unbelievable opportunity that people would kill for no matter what situation. I don't take it for granted. I've been through a lot of ups and downs and having this opportunity to play professional football in a great city like Houston, I'm going to take full advantage of my opportunity and give it my all."

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