Texans Positional Outlook: DeAndre Hopkins Remains at the Top and Questions Remain with Will Fuller
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans wide receiver group was considered a strength heading into the season, but by season's end, injuries remained a topic of discussion with the group.
DeAndre Hopkins remained a reliable target and one of the best in the game, Kenny Stills brought stability to the group while questions continued about Will Fuller and his health.
There is plenty of talent in the wide receiver room, but there is room to shuffle things heading into 2020.
Starters- DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills
Backups- DeAndre Carter, Keke Coutee, Chad Hansen, Steven Mitchell, Jr. *Isaac Whitney
DeAndre Hopkins continues to be one of the best if not the best wide receiver in the NFL after posting another 1,000-yard season. Even with all of the offensive upgrades, Hopkins was the one player that Watson could count on at any time when a big play was needed. Kenny Stills arrived before the season from the Dolphins and helped with their depth and was able to make plays when needed. That lack of availability of Will Fuller dealing with hamstring and a groin injury slowed the offense. The Texans have to figure out a solution for Fuller. The offense looked lost without his presence. Either they have to find someone like him or get him healthy over the off-season. Keke Coutee, after a rookie season that showed promise could not get into the rotation in year two.
Outlook for the Wide Receivers Heading into 2020
The wide receiver group will be built around the best in the game in DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins remains the offenses go-to player when they need plays to be made. Hopkins continues to eat up yards and has three straight All-Pro selections for his production. Players like Hopkins do not come around often, and he is solidifying himself as one of the best Texans in franchise history.
The addition of Kenny Stills proved to be a plus with the lack of Will Fuller on the field for multiple injuries. Stills was able to come in an keep the offense a threat on the outside, unlike last season when they did not have a third receiver to pick up the slack. Stills showed big-play ability and consistency when given the opportunity. Spending and off-season with the Texans could prove significant for him heading into 2020.
Speaking of Fuller, the Texans need to find an answer for him. Either competition of a replacement for his skill set. There is no reason for the offense not to look the same without Fuller, and if it does, there are bigger issues. Fuller is yet to play a full season in the NFL, and this off-season again, he had surgery to repair a core muscle injury. This off-season will be an interesting one for Fuller and the Texans.
Keke Coutee could not get on the field after a promising rookie season. Coutee struggled during practice and was passed over on gamedays in favor of Still and DeAndre Carter. The odd man out, Coutee, is going to have to show he is committed to the Texans, or his time with the organization could be short-lived.
DeAndre Carter's usage in the offense was based on injuries to Stills and Fuller, and he showed some there. He was a reliable punt returner and had little opportunity for kick returns. The one issue with Carter was when the playoffs arrived. He had critical mistakes that nearly cost them in the Wildcard round with a near-fumble after he tossed a football to the official. Then a horrid fumble on a return against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round that flipped the entire game. Those are mistakes that cannot happen for Carter. The regular season is one thing, but to produce errors on the playoff stage is a huge problem.
The Texans appear to be in good shape with Hopkins and another season of Stills. There are legitimate questions on Fuller and if the team can depend on him. He has shown that he can be a legit playmaker, but it is hard to do that from the sidelines. The Texans need to find a comparable player to him or bring in competition to push him to sink or swim.
With the Texans moving away from a traditional slot wide receiver, Coutee and Carter will have to fight for their roster spots next off-season. Getting Deshaun Watson bigger targets appears to be the route the Texans are taking with personnel.
There is room for improvement in the group and it there will be little surprise if there is shuffling of the group outside of Hopkins and Stills heading into 2020.
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