Seeing their entire wide receiver group on the field together is a refreshing sight for the Houston Texans - especially on offense. For the first time since week four of last season, the Texans have Deandre Hopkins, Keke Coutee, and Will Fuller all on the field at once. Fuller's health was one of the more significant concerns coming into this season due to having torn his ACL in his right knee during the 2018 season.
Fuller's injury came at the worst time for the Texans and sent the offense looking for answers as the team tried to replace his unique skill set. Fuller's absence changed the Texans offense to the tune of nearly 100 yards per game. The severity of his injury put Fuller's timeline to get back on the field in question. He spent his entire off-season in Houston getting his ACL healthy and ready for football. Now, he is on track to return to the field came more quickly than he expected.
Sitting out all of OTAs and mandatory mini-camp, Fuller showed up on the first day of training camp and has not missed days on the field except for scheduled days off, determined by head coach Bill O'Brien. That hard work with the Texans rehabilitation team put Fuller on track to get back on the field, and even Fuller himself was unsure about what was ahead.
"Honestly, I didn't know what to expect," Fuller said of getting back to the field. "I haven't been going up against anybody. I didn't really know what to expect. But you know, once I got out there, I felt way better than I thought I would and I feel like I'm doing way better than I thought I was. So, I guess that's a good thing."
The progression for Fuller came with milestones like pedaling a bike for the first time. Also, how "weird it felt" to run for the first time when the medical team gave him clearance.
Missing that time from the team and putting in the work to get healthy made Fuller miss the game of football.
"That is the longest I have been without football in my life," Fuller said with regard to his injury. "I'm just watching the team through their ups and downs, not being able to help them is real humbling. Not being able to play football, and I really want to remind myself never to take it for granted."
The Texans have worked Fuller into the offense gradually, listening to him and how he feels during and after practice. With scheduled days off, Fuller had his first real challenge in joint practices against the Green Bay Packers.
"I think for me, it was real good coming out here and competing against another team," Fuller said of practices against Green Bay. "Especially my long layoff, I haven't played against anybody in a long time. So, it feels good to get out here and compete against some other guys."
By the end of day two of practices, the Texans pulled Fuller from practice and rested him to monitor his workload to prepare him for the season.
"I am still progressing," Fuller said of his health. "I am still working through some things with my knee. We are out there working it out. I am feeling better each practice I am out here. Just being out here is helping me a lot."
Fuller knows it is all business on the field and getting ready for the season is his primary goal. That starts with getting on the same page with Deshaun Watson and the early returns have been good for the duo.
"Being out here has helped me a lot and especially you know, being with Deshaun again," Fuller said of being back on the field. "Just getting that timing down so that we can, you know, continue where we left off."
It has been a long off-season and fast paced training camp but the Houston Texans first preseason game is here as they square off with the Green Bay Packers.
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