CINCINNATI - Retirement is not a topic of discussion for cornerback Nate Clements. He won't say whether he wants to play a 13th NFL season in 2013, or whether the Bengals have asked him to return.

CINCINNATI Retirement is not a topic of discussion for cornerback Nate Clements. He wont say whether he wants to play a 13th NFL season in 2013, or whether the Bengals have asked him to return.

Im just enjoying the moment, said Clements, in the final season of his contract. Im not even focusing on that right now. Im focused on this Saturday.

The former Ohio State star is more concerned about getting his first career playoff victory when the Bengals (10-6) play the Texans (12-4) in Houston on Saturday in an AFC wild-card game.

Clements, who turned 33 last month, knows time is short in a career that has included 180 games played, including 168 starts, since the Buffalo Bills made him a first-round draft pick in 2001 after his junior season at OSU.

Nobody ever wants it to end, Clements said. I dont think like that. I really do cherish the little things, even going out to practice. Im enjoying the little moments.

Clements played his first 10 NFL seasons with Buffalo and San Francisco, and he didnt make the playoffs before signing a two-year, $10.5 million deal with Cincinnati as a free agent in July 2011. The long postseason drought for Clements ended last year with the Bengals, although it was over quickly as Houston defeated them 31-10 in a wild-card game.

Making the postseason the last two years has definitely been the highlight of my career, said Clements, a native of the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights.

Clements has been his usual durable, productive self. He has played in 15 games, starting nine, made 53 tackles, intercepted a pass and defended five others. He also has forced a fumbled and contributed on special teams.

Hes extremely versatile and valuable to us, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said. Hes a great veteran leader and a terrific player. Hes a pros pro.

His professionalism showed in week three when Zimmer asked Clements to move to strong safety because the secondary was struggling with injuries and subpar play. Clements accepted the change without complaint and made five starts at a position he never played in his NFL career, at Ohio State or in high school.

Hes the epitome of a defensive back, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

Although hes scheduled to start at left cornerback on Saturday, Clements might be back at safety if veteran Chris Crocker cant play after missing practice all week because of a thigh injury.

I know when my number is called, at whatever position that I need to play, that Ive made sure Im prepared, Clements said.

His wisdom and work ethic has carried over to 33 teammates who have four years or less of NFL experience, including another former Ohio State player, rookie running back Daniel Herron.

Since Ive been here, Herron said, Nate has been one of the guys who has taken me under his wing and helped me out ever since. He tells me little things, like make sure to work hard, take care of my body, eat right all the things you have to do to stay in this league as long as he has.

Before this year, Clements had started at least 15 games in nine of his previous 11 seasons. The only significant time he missed was in 2009, when a fractured shoulder blade limited him to seven games (six starts).

Ive been blessed to not have had any major injuries, Clements said. I always try to make sure I stay in the best shape possible physically, and make sure Im prepared mentally.

That approach has helped Clements do more than just survive 12 seasons in a career that the NFL Players Association says lasts an average of 3.3 years. Clements has intercepted 36 passes, forced 23 fumbles and made the Pro Bowl after the 2004 season. He also has scored nine touchdowns on returns of interceptions, punts and blocked field–goal attempts.

He knows the Bengals have his replacement waiting with first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick, who is on injured reserve. Clements knows some day retirement will call him home to his wife, Melissa, and their four children. For now, only the playoffs are on his mind.

You ultimately play for the Super Bowl, to win the Lombardi Trophy, he said