HOUSTON - It had been almost two months since he had seen the field lined up as a wide receiver for the Houston Texans. When Keke Coutee got his shot, he didn't miss.
He pulled down half of his four targets for 10 yards and a touchdown. The box score, in itself, isn't impressive.
But akin to a lost traveler in the desert, it might as well have been an oasis.
It had been 63 days since Coutee had seen an offensive snap. Against Baltimore caught his first pass for a first down. He caught his second one too. The play ended in a touchdown ... for the Ravens. Coutee fumbled only to see Baltimore take it back for a score.
The play sent him to the bench where he's spent most of his time for the Texans as a healthy scratch.
With Randall Cobb's injury Sunday against the Patriots, Coutee finally had a chance to take the field again with the offense. And now, with Cobb being moved to IR due to a toe injury, there figure to be more chances. ... for another reason: Kenny Stills (quadriceps) will not travel with team; he's been ruled out for Thursday, as have Cullen Gillaspia (back), P.J. Hall (torn pectoral) and Josh McCown (illness).
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Deshaun Waston saw Coutee make the most of his chance.
"Keke’s been a guy who’s been working," said QB Watson. "He hasn’t had the best opportunities, but whenever he did, especially this past Sunday, he came in and produced."
Watson said he expects more from Coutee down the stretch.
"He’s a guy I’m looking forward to have a big rest of the season each and every game and just continue to build his confidence."
It wasn't easy for Coutee to come in and play a position that is so often involved in motion and route combinations that are important to a variety of plays.
"He knows that whenever he’s out there on that field he has the ability to get the ball with me playing quarterback."
Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly praised Coutee's ability to stay ready when his time came.
"We move him all over the place," Kelly said. "He lines different parts of the field and has different assignments, but Keke has done such a good job of staying engaged and staying involved and coming in like a professional every day and learning what his responsibilities are and what the nuances of the techniques are of the route running and things along those lines."
Cobb, who has caught 38 passes for 441 yards and three TDs in his first season here after signing a three-year, $27 million contract, could come back this year. But for now, he will be missed.
As a result, though, Coutee, the former Texas Tech wideout, could start helping more as early as Thanksgiving in Detroit.
Kelly was thankful Coutee performed under pressure.
"We didn’t skip a beat when his number was called," he said.
No, the Texans didn't.
And if Coutee can play that well with 63 days between snaps, imagine what he can after just a four-day layoff to the Lions at 11:30 a.m. CT on Thursday morning.
Finally getting his chance, Coutee already has something to be thankful for this week.