Daily Brew: Kenny Stills making big plays and calling them too

When the Texans acquired Kenny Stills on the final day of August, they liked his speed, his route-running and his versatility as a wide receiver.

On Sunday in Indianapolis, Stills became even more important to the Texans offense when Will Fuller V exited the game early with an injury. The newest wide receiver stepped up to make some key catches to set up Houston’s two touchdown drives.

“Kenny is an excellent player,” head coach Bill O’Brien said. “We need Kenny. Kenny does a lot of great things for us. He’s got good leadership qualities.”

In the fourth quarter, Stills caught a 41-yard pass from Deshaun Watson down the sideline to get Houston into Colts territory. Five plays later, DeAndre Hopkins caught a four-yard touchdown to get the Texans within five points.

According to O’Brien, Stills had a hand in the play-calling of his catch on that drive.

“He wants the ball,” O’Brien said. “The go-route, he called that play. He knew that he could win on that one and we went to that play.”

Stills returned to Sunday’s lineup after missing two games with an injury and finished with four receptions for a season-high 105 yards, averaging 26.3 yards per catch.

In his five games as a Texan, Stills has 15 receptions for 293 yards and a touchdown. The seven-year veteran credits Watson’s playmaking ability as the reason for early chemistry, but Stills has done his part off the field too. After being traded from the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 31, Stills immediately got to work learning the playbook, putting in 13- and 14-hour days.

“I’ve always kind of thought of myself as a really detailed receiver, not the most athletically gifted,” Stills said. “I’m fast but I’m not one of the guys with the big hands or a crazy big frame or anything so I try to make sure my game is extremely detailed and I’m on the same page with the quarterback. I think the deep stuff comes from just good play calls, we got ‘trick plays’ in and the coaches calling the right plays at the right time.”

Stills ranks second in the NFL with 16.2 yards per catch (minimum 200 catches) since 2013 and is one of just five NFL receivers to catch at least six touchdowns in each season from 2016-18.

The Houston Texans partnered with Houston Methodist to recognize Coach Cornell Gray of Furr High School as this week’s Coach of the Week.

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