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You Smell That? Smells Like Training Camp…

Every year, I get the greatest birthday present imaginable. No, it’s not that new TV I wanted. Nor the hottest new accessory for my iPhone. But I know, every August, its time to quit begrudgingly trying to follow baseball and turn my full, undivided attention to a little something called The National Football League.

No more searching Google for any kind of national attention our team may or may not be getting. No more checking to see where Steve Slaton sits on the projected fantasy rankings. No more simulating seasons on Madden. And no more watching reruns of last years playoffs on NFL Network. Well, actually, I will probably still do that. Because let's be honest, training camp is nice, but it just barely suppresses our appetites for some real football.

This has been one of the longest offseasons ever for me, personally. I mean, I have missed football so bad that I have actually watched some Arena Football rebroadcasts. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Why is it that my favorite sport has to have the longest offseason of the big three of the NFL, MLB and the NBA? Guess that’s just the sports gods laughing at us.

But I digress. Your Houston Texans report to camp this Thursday and start two-a-days on Friday. Already there is a buzz about this franchise that there hasn’t been since its inception. Will this be the year that Houston posts its first winning record? Will they make a push for the playoffs and division crown? Will Matt Schaub stay on the field the whole season? Will first-round draft pick Brian Cushing sign a contract before camp starts?

Of course, all you will get from the national media is minute-by-minute updates on Brett Favre and Michael Vick. But, at least it is football. Right?

Well, the great thing about training camp is that hope springs eternal and everyone has the same record. Everyone thinks this will be the year their team makes a difference. For some, it's wishful thinking. For others, it is a realistic possibility. I believe that our Texans are on the fence on that one. It wouldn’t surprise me if we went up or down this year. As much as I hate saying this (partly because it is cliché, and partly because as a Rockets fan, I am sick of saying it), it really comes down to health for this team. With our big time players healthy, we can compete with anyone. But until we prove we can stay healthy, that critique is always going to come up.

It's almost time, Texans fans. Time to start thinking about our tailgate menus. Time to start scheduling our entire week around Sunday afternoons. Time to start thinking about seeing some football.

That’s about the best birthday present I could ask for.