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Anderson comes up big in win


In physical stature, wide receiver David Anderson is among the smallest on the Houston Texans. Fortunately for the 5-10, 194-pound wideout, that has no bearing on his ability to make plays.

Anderson made a big splash in the Texans' preseason opener, catching a game-high six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown in Houston's 19-16 win over the Denver Broncos. The third-year receiver out of Colorado State found out just prior to kickoff that he would be the third receiver in the first quarter and play with the starting group in the second and third periods.

"I knew I was going to play a lot in those first, second and third quarters," Anderson said. "If you get those opportunities, you've definitely got to make the most of them if you want to stay in the NFL."

The performance may have surprised fans unfamiliar with Anderson, and one could hardly blame them. In two seasons with the Texans, Anderson has played in 15 games, starting none, and has caught a mere 13 passes for 158 yards. He was cut before the regular season began last year, only to be re-signed three weeks later and see limited action in Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson's absence.

Against Denver, Anderson showed how badly he wants to stick around this season as he battles for the fifth wide receiver spot behind Johnson, Kevin Walter, André Davis and Jacoby Jones.

Anderson's six receptions were a Texans preseason record, and his 67 receiving yards were the second-most in team preseason history. His 16-yard touchdown reception from Sage Rosenfels was the Texans' lone trip to the end zone in the game.

It didn't surprise his teammates one bit.

"David does those things in practice," said Johnson, who sat out the game with a groin injury. "When you look at him, he's a small guy; he really doesn't even look like a football player. But he plays with a big heart, and that's all that matters.

"When you can go out there and give it all you've got, you can go out and make plays, and that's what Dave does. He goes out and makes plays every day on a consistent basis."

All offseason, Anderson has made big plays in practice, both in kick coverage on special teams and on offense as a wide receiver. Tonight, he came up with the biggest performance of his three-year career.

{QUOTE}"I think there's a lot more to a receiver than being big and fast," Walter said. "That's obviously a plus, but David knows how to create that separation. He knows how to get open, and he does a good job of that. He's improving and he's making plays out there, and he did a heck of a job today."

Anderson, whose mullet haircut with a lightning bolt and steps shaved into the side of his head ranks as one of the most unique hairstyles on the team, punctuated his touchdown reception with a similarly distinctive celebration that he described as an imitation of a rock star kicking over a microphone onstage.

"It never becomes old to get into the end zone, that's for sure," he said. "People always say, 'Celebrate like you've been there before,' but I say, 'Celebrate like you're never going to get there again,' because you never know if it's going to be your last play ever in the NFL."

"You can always count on something crazy from him when he scores a touchdown," Johnson said. "You never know what you're going to get. Even if you look at his haircut, you never really know what you're going to get from him. But he's doing a good job."

Anderson credited his performance in part to his rapport with Rosenfels, with whom Anderson has played on the second team in Texans practice for the past two seasons.

Rosenfels, in turn, gave a momentous compliment to his new favorite target.

"I had the chance to play with Wes Welker for two seasons, and he has some of that same feel," Rosenfels said. "He knows how to get open and he knows all the positions and he just has a good feel for the game. It's hard to teach that.

"He's got all those sort of intangibles that you can't necessarily measure at the combine, say, but he's a guy that can know all four wide receiver positions. You can stick him in there at any of them at any time and he'll know exactly what to do.

"Those are the types of guys that me and Matt (Schaub) like to be on our team, and I also think coach (Gary) Kubiak really likes those types of guys, too."

After the game, Kubiak hinted that Anderson's strong offseason and impressive performance tonight could be a sign of bigger and better things to come.

"I think he has a chance to be special," Kubiak said. "We've all seen it at camp, so it doesn't surprise you when he comes out here and starts to do things. He's tough. He understands the game. Our quarterbacks trust him. Our players love him. He's just a good football player.

"He has to gain a lot of confidence, and he started tonight in our three wides. If he continues at the pace he's going, he's going to play a lot for this football team. Very, very impressive young man."

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