Ah, training camp.
That time of year where every fan considers their team a Super Bowl contender and every rookie is going to be the next NFL superstar. This is no different in Houston Texans training camp as first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins is turning a lot of heads as he joins the team with high expectations.
Any time a receiver is taken in the first round of an NFL Draft, the expectations are going to be for him to make an impact as a rookie. For the Texans, who have suffered through years of mediocre wide receiver play outside of Andre Johnson, the opportunity is definitely there for Hopkins.
He steps in to the starting job opposite Johnson on day one and if the tweets from training camp this morning are any indication, he’s up to the challenge:
Biggest plays from practice belong to DeAndre Hopkins. 2 things standout: ability to go get the ball. Can really stop and start. #Texans
— Greg Bailey (@GregBailey13) July 31, 2013
— Matt Musil (@KHOUSportsMatt) July 31, 2013
The highlights we’ve seen thus far have shown Hopkins ability to go up and get the ball as well as simply catching everything in sight. Things like videos of him catching passes one-handed is fun and all, but seeing him being a crisp route runner is way more encouraging.
For the Hopkins pick to be considered a success, his total number of catches or touchdowns aren’t as important as taking the pressure off of Johnson and preventing Matt Schaub from relapsing into the tunnel vision he had for Johnson, and Johnson only, late last season.
The reports about Schaub and Hopkins staying after practice to work together on their timing is encouraging as well. If these two can be on the same page when camp breaks, that will go a long way in making sure the offense doesn’t stagnate like it did the final quarter of 2012.
The past few years, if Johnson wanted to have a big game, he had to overcome double coverage. With Hopkins aboard, it already stretches the field twice over what Kevin Walter ever did.
Andre Johnson has to be smiling.
Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” his page on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also subscribe to his Texans podcast on iTunes.