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Houston Texans: Brock Osweiler and DeAndre Hopkins developing rapport on the field

By The Sports Xchange

HOUSTON -- The chemistry experiment between Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler and Pro-Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is starting to click.

Although the true litmus test of the Texans' new passing connection will unfold this fall, Osweiler and Hopkins are starting to build some timing and rapport.

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Hopkins displayed a penchant for acrobatic, one-handed catches during his breakthrough season last year. At 6-foot-1, 218 pounds with large hands and explosiveness working in his favor, Hopkins has a huge catch radius.

And Osweiler is learning rapidly that he can deliver the football anywhere close to Hopkins and have a shot at completing his throws.

"Hop is a very unique wide receiver," Osweiler said. "He's a wide receiver you love to have on your side. With him, I don't know if there's really anything that's not catchable as long as you put it in bounds.

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"That's very comforting as a quarterback. He's always saying, 'Just throw it up, I'll go get it.' As a quarterback, you love hearing that."

Osweiler and Hopkins have spent a lot of extra time away from the Texans' practice field to work on their craft. They held informal throwing sessions along with other skill players in Arizona that were organized by Osweiler and have also conducted other workouts in Houston.

Hopkins smiled when told of Osweiler's comments about his catch radius.

"I mean, I'm only human so I don't want to hype, but put the ball in my vicinity, hopefully I'm going to come down with it," Hopkins said. "Nine times out of 10, I've done that. It's on Brock to trust me to come down with the ball and him not having any worries and not thinking. Just giving me a chance.

"I feel like it's going well. We put in a lot of time before we had to be here, which helped out a lot with all the receivers, not just myself. It's going well so far."

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Hopkins caught a career-high 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. It was his first season playing without Texans legendary wide receiver Andre Johnson, who was cut last year and played last season for the Indianapolis Colts.

Because of the extra time spent with Osweiler, Hopkins is hoping to cut down on the learning curve.

"It's just the timing and him knowing how we run our routes," Hopkins said. "Him knowing our strengths and weaknesses from each player, not just the top receivers out there, but everybody out there who threw with us in Arizona. We do extra stuff, stay and watch a little extra film. Do things when we're not supposed to be up here, to help."

Now, Hopkins is preparing for his first season playing with Osweiler. Osweiler signed a four-year, $72 million free-agent deal in March to leave the Denver Broncos.

"I've seen a lot of progress," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "These guys are working extremely hard. I've definitely seen progress."

O'Brien could tell how much work and knowledge Hopkins had imparted to Osweiler as soon as they hit the practice field this spring.

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"Yeah, I definitely did because I think that we were ahead communication-wise," O'Brien said. "Because I think when those receivers went out there, they talked to Brock about route names, signals and all kinds of different things. I think we were ahead, so it was really good that they did that."

Osweiler says it's paying dividends to put in extra time with Hopkins and the other wide receivers.

"Decisions need to be made in milliseconds out on the field and you need to almost know what the other guy is thinking and exactly what he's going to do," Osweiler said. "There's not a lot of time to have conversations on the field during the game. That's where the trust and the practice comes into play, through practice, through off-site throwing sessions; that's where you build that trust and build that cohesion with a wide receiver.

"Hop and I have a tremendous relationship. It's one of those deals where I just respect his work ethic. I respect that he comes to work every day and he works to be great. He wants to get better every single day."

Hopkins caught passes from four different quarterbacks last season. During that quarterback carousel, the Texans started Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J Yates and Brandon Weeden.

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Now, Hopkins is building a relationship with Osweiler as an established starter with no one looking over his shoulder.

"That's very important," Hopkins said. "A lot of Super Bowl teams and a lot of teams that had success, their main receiver and their quarterback have been best friends. Might not be off the field, but on the field you can tell. That's very important for this team."

Hopkins has noticed that Osweiler isn't shy about speaking his mind and has a take-charge personality.

"He's a leader," Hopkins said. "He's talkative. If he sees something that he knows he can help us out with, then he'll speak out. He's not the quarterback that's going to hold his opinion. If he sees something he can do better or we can do better, he's a true leader in the offensive room."

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