The Houston Texans have had a great passing attack for half a decade, ranking within the top five passing attacks in the AFC all but one of the past five seasons (they were seventh in 2011, when Matt Schaub missed the final six regular season games due to a Lisfranc injury).
Keep in mind that over the past five seasons, the Texans have reached this mark with Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter … and not much else.
Walter was with the Texans from 2006 through 2012, but was recently let go because his contract become expendable. Walter’s best season came in 2008 when he caught 60 passes for 899 yards and eight touchdowns. He was signed by the Tennessee Titans in March, but has since been placed on the PUP list. But even though he’s gone, there is hope that the Texans’ receiving corps could have a marvelous season this year.
Let’s take a look at the depth chart for the receiver position, and see just how good they could be.
DeAndre Hopkins is a breath of fresh air for the Texans, bringing a big-bodied, fast receiver that can challenge the defense and draw double teams away from Andre Johnson (something Walter could do only one season). Texans wide receiver coach Larry Kirksey, who has been coaching since 1974, recently sat down with the Texans’ official site to discuss his receivers.
The coach had high praise for Hopkins, saying: “[Hopkins is] a very talented young man. He’s got good size, good range and outstanding ball skills. He works. From day one, every pass he caught he sprinted not 10, not 20, 30 but 40, 50 yards down the field after the catch. That’s what we ask for in our receivers. I think he’s off to a great start from that standpoint.”
Hopkins has already won over the coaching staff, most Texans fans and most of the NFL with his insistence on emulating everything the veteran Johnson does and his persistent work ethic. If his college talent (205 receptions for 3009 yards and 27 touchdowns in three years) can transfer to the NFL level, Hopkins could be one of the most valuable picks in this past season’s draft.
Andre Johnson is entering his 10th season in the NFL, all with Houston. Johnson has led the Texans in receiving yards every year but 2011 and in receptions every year but 2007 and 2011.
Kirksey had this to say about him: “He’s one of those gifted athletes that has size, speed, and playing strength. With the work ethic and the demeanor he brings to work every day, he wants to win a championship and that’s all within reach. It’s going to be a big year for him. Healthy Andre Johnson’s going to make the whole receiving corps that much better this year.”
Johnson had been begging the Texans for months to make a move in the draft and get another big wide receiver, and they definitely fulfilled his wish with Hopkins. With the two of them playing on opposite sides of the field, the Texans could be a very scary opponent for anyone not named Darrelle Revis.
But let’s not forget about the rest of the Texans receivers. Devier Posey, who was drafted 68th overall in the 2012 draft from Ohio State, had almost 2,000 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns despite being suspended for 10 games in his senior season. If he can stay healthy in the NFL (he tore his ACL in the Texans’ 2012 postseason), he could be that third or fourth guy that the Texans need.
He’s currently projected to be behind Keshawn Martin, who was another receiver drafted in 2012. Martin was targeted more last season, but had very similar numbers overall, so it’s yet to be seen if the Michigan State alum or the Ohio State alum will win that battle once Posey is healthy. For now, Martin has the job.
LeStar Jean got 151 yards out of just six catches last season, but is not assured of a roster spot yet with the 2013 Texans, dropping two catchable balls in the Texans’ preseason victory over the Minnesota Vikings last week.