HOUSTON -- Keke Coutee has the potential to be something special for the Houston Texans offense. His biggest problem: consistency.
In three seasons since being drafted out of Texas Tech, Coutee has never met the expectations of what Houston looks for in a slot receiver. Sure, there's been glimpses of high-end play, but there's also been a handful of mistakes that have cost Houston wins.
Training camp will be a pivotal moment for his career at NRG Stadium. There's no guarantee he makes the final 53-man squad with the emergence of new weapon Anthony Miller in the mix.
Still, he feels like he's growing more each snap. In large part, Coutee credits his connection with new QB Tyrod Taylor.
“I feel like we're gelling pretty well right now,” Coutee said Tuesday. “I feel like I've grown a lot. Obviously, still have more to get better at, so I'm focused on different things, one thing at a time, every day.”
Of the 10 receivers on Houston's roster, Coutee has arguably benefited the most working with the new Texans QB. The duo seems in sync during seven-on-seven work, and Taylor (in for the suddenly absent Deshaun Watson) has relied on him during two-minute drills on third down.
Even though offensive coordinator Tim Kelly was retained by head coach David Culley, it still is a new offense with an emphasis on establishing the run. Maybe the change has factored in to Coutee's new-found success?
"I feel like everybody is fitting in very well. We're just coming out here trying to get one-percent better every day," Coutee said. "I feel like we're progressing every day. First day with the pads on was a good day. We're just going to try to improve tomorrow.”
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In three years, Coutee has recorded 83 catches for 983 yards and scored four times. Last season was his best season thus far, finishing with 33 catches for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
But sometimes, Houston watchers focus on the flaws, like that fumble last December that would have tied the game against AFC South rival Indianapolis.
This year marks a chance at a clean slate of sorts, with a new staff and a new opportunity for all roster bubble players. Coutee is trying to leave the last three seasons in the past and looks forward to a promising start under Culley.
“Just learning from my past situations, past injuries, as well, and just learning how to be a pro and take care of my body and just be out there as much as I can and just being available,” Coutee said.
Culley hasn't named a first- or second-team offense yet. Familiar and talented names like Brandin Cooks, Zach Cunningham, Laremy Tunsil and Justin Reid all should be penciled in as starters based off their track record.
Coutee falls somewhere in the middle of the roster pack. One practice, he could be the team's starting slot target and a replacement for the traded Randall Cobb. The next, he could be in theory calling his agent, looking for a new team.
Only time will tell. For now, Coutee is making the most of his reps with a team looking for consistency at a position of need.
“Every day is a new day," Coutee said. "Every day is a new opportunity, as well. So that's in the past and I'm focusing on this year with this team.”