Texans Looking For the Right Combination of Receivers In Will Fuller's Absence
Patrick D. Starr
With only one regular-season game left on the Houston Texans schedule this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, the wide receiver group is up in flux due to the injury to Will Fuller V.
Injured in the Texans win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and now there is little time to adjust before the playoffs arrive in less than two weeks.
Expected to be without Fuller for at least this coming week, head coach Bill O'Brien understands that the offense is going to have to adjust without their speedy wide receiver.
"Fuller, when he went out," O'Brien explained. "It just it is what it is. Everybody deals with these types of adjustments. I think for us, we know what we need to do. We need to execute a lot more consistently on offense, and we need to make sure that everybody is ready to play on game day."
The constants in the offense will stay the same with both DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills being Deshaun Watson's primary wideouts moving forward.
Against the Buccaneers, the Texans' biggest play of the game to set up the game-winning field goal came from an unlikely player in DeAndre Carter. This season Carter only has five receptions for 97 yards, and two came last Saturday against the Buccaneers when he filled in for the offense in three-wide receiver sets.
"DeAndre did step up, he did," O'Brien said of Carter's performance last weekend. "He made a big play in the game — very decisive player. DeAndre Carter is a great teammate. But it is, it's definitely an adjustment."
Finding the right combination to replace Fuller's impact and production could come from a few players on the Texans roster.
Finding a way to get wide receiver Keke Coutee back on track could be a boost for the Texans. Coutee has been a healthy scratch four times this season and inactive for two other games. Still able to haul in 21 passes for 247 yards while averaging 11.8 yards a catch, Coutee is the favorite to move into the lineup in Fuller's absence.
The offense could turn to more three tight end sets by adding Jordan Thomas to the rotation but it will take more than one option to replace what's lost with Fuller's absence.
Despite the shuffle that is coming, O'Brien is not going to experiment with lineups to see what works this coming weekend. Dialed in on getting a group on that will help Watson be productive is what matters to him the most.
"I would never use the word 'experiment' though," O'Brien said of the wide receiver group this coming weekend. "Whoever's playing in the Tennessee game, we feel can help us beat Tennessee. I'm going to put it to you that way."