Andre Johnson sounds like it’s just another game.
The wide receiver makes his Indianapolis Colts debut Sunday at Buffalo, but that doesn’t mean the 13th-year pro is giddy with excitement.
Nor is he the least bit nervous.
“To be honest, I haven’t had butterflies for a game since – I think the last time I had butterflies was my first time playing in high school,” Johnson said Friday. “I don’t get butterflies for football any more.
“I’m probably one of the calmest guys you’ll ever see before a game. I don’t really get caught up into the hype and all that stuff. I just try to focus on what I have to do out on the field and just try to go out and execute it to the best of my ability.”
That approach has enabled him to catch 1,012 passes for 13,597 yards and 64 TDs, all franchise records for his former team, the Houston Texans. He was also selected to seven Pro Bowls.
If it’s true what NFL coaches say about the importance of keeping an even keel amid the ebbs and flows of the pro game, Johnson epitomizes that demeanor. A leader by example, he might say the word “excited,” but it’s in an understated tone.
“I think everybody is excited,” he said, with a straight face. “I mean, it’s opening week for football. That’s what I’m excited about. Just to finally play games where it counts, and just work towards achieving that ultimate goal. We have our first test on Sunday.”
Johnson has studied the Bills and knows to expect the unexpected from head coach Rex Ryan’s aggressive, blitzing defenses.
“Every team I’ve ever played against with him, they’ve always had a great front,” he said. “Those guys have a great front up in Buffalo. They give you a lot of crazy looks on defense and stuff like that. Always challenge you on protecting the quarterback and things like that, trying to confuse you. You just have to study as much film as possible. Just go out and not panic. Just let your rules take charge and just play football the way you know how to play.”
Players often speak of how special the season opener can be. Johnson, 34, isn’t one of those guys. Every game is equally important.
“It’s still the same,” he said. “I just love the game of football. I love playing football. Been playing this game since I was six years old. The feeling never changes. It’s something you’re excited about. You’re ready to get back to playing and competing against the best. It’s just something you just look forward to.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.