Houston Texans' DeAndre Hopkins feeling effects of stardom

By The Sports Xchange
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) celebrates a touchdown catch. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) celebrates a touchdown catch. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI | License Photo

HOUSTON - The mantle of being a star wide receiver is a heavy one, something Houston Texans standout DeAndre Hopkins learned over the past three games.

Frequently facing double-team coverage, he was held to three catches for 52 yards on six targets during a 27-6 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday night.


Hopkins' productivity has dipped with defenses paying special attention to him. He's averaged 4.3 catches and 58.6 yards during the past three weeks, catching 13 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown in that span.

"Look, we try to get him involved every week," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "We can do a better job. He can do a better job. I think other guys have to step up and make plays and right now people are doubling him quite a bit.


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"That's the way it goes when you're an elite receiver and I think he understands that. We're all going to work really hard to get DeAndre the ball. We're not crazy, we're not trying to not throw him the football. We all have to work together on it."

Although Hopkins has caught 89 passes for 1,221 yards and 10 touchdowns, the momentum he built, including five catches, 118 yards and two scores against the New York Jets and veteran corner Darrelle Revis, has been halted.

"I was doubled the whole game," Hopkins said Sunday night. "They just had a good game plan against us. They outcoached us. They outplayed us."

--It wasn't the kind of sterling performance Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt has grown accustomed to, and he acknowledged he was limited and in pain against the Patriots.

Watt was hampered by his inability to grip with his broken left hand, unable to bull-rush effectively and basically played with one hand against the Patriots. He ranks second in the NFL with 13 1/2 sacks and was double-teamed constantly.


Although Watt finished with just three tackles, one for a loss, with zero sacks or quarterback hits on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and was flagged for unnecessary roughness, Texans coach Bill O'Brien said it was a much better performance than generally perceived.

"He will get more and more adjusted to having that club on his hand, without the use of his fingers," O'Brien said. "He put a lot of heat on Brady, did a lot of things in the running game. Even though he may not have been the one making the tackle, he was very disruptive.

"Just because it doesn't always show up on the stats sheet, doesn't mean he didn't have a good game. I thought he played a whale of a game."

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--Former Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett is expected to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.

Mallett had an impressive workout for the Ravens weeks ago. He wasn't immediately signed to a contract while the Ravens checked into Mallett's background.

Mallett was released on Oct. 28 by the Texans, days after he missed a team charter flight for a road trip against the Miami Dolphins. He had a history of tardiness for team activities with the Texans.


--For the first time this season in a game where he was healthy and active, Texans running back Alfred Blue didn't have a single carry.

Chris Polk made his first NFL start in place of Blue, who had been the primary replacement for injured Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster. Blue was relegated to 10 plays on special teams Sunday.

Blue said he learned just before the game that he wasn't starting.

"I mean it is a back by committee, anyways," said Blue, the Texans' leading rusher with 444 yards and two touchdowns on 127 carries this season. "So, you just have to wait until your number is called and opportunity and just stay patient back there."

With Blue out of the offense, Polk rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries with a long run of 9 yards. He caught two passes for 14 yards. Jonathan Grimes was the Texans' leading rusher with 53 yards on seven carries, 37 of them gained on one run.

"It was great to start," Polk said. "I've been waiting to start since I got in the league, but I would trade it for a win any day because it's definitely a team sport."


--Reeling from two consecutive losses and embarrassed on national television by the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, the Texans are about to square off with the Indianapolis Colts.

The Texans (6-7) travel to Indianapolis on Sunday to a venue where they've never won a game in the history of the franchise. The Texans are 0-13 on the road against the Colts (6-7) going back to the inaugural year of the franchise in 2002 and are 4-23 all-time against the AFC South club.

"I mean, it's something we know," Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said. "It's part of our history. It's something we need to change."

--Guard Brandon Brooks returned to play without incident one week after extreme nausea and sweating sidelined him.

--Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney had two sacks against Tom Brady and has 4 1/2 for the season.

--Cornerback Kevin Johnson was beaten for another touchdown, his third in the past two weeks.

--Defensive end J.J. Watt was limited to three tackles, one for a loss, with zero sacks or quarterback hits.

--Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus had a sack, and now has 7 1/2 sacks for the season.


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