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DeAndre Hopkins “banged up” but still having his best season

DeAndre Hopkins has had a record-setting season.

The All-Pro led the NFL and set a single-season career high in receiving yards (1,572) in 2018. Hopkins also caught more passes (115) than in any other season and while scoring 11 touchdowns.

“I mean, even out there just now in a walkthrough, he made some one-handed grab,” head coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday. “He just has a great skillset, really smart player, excellent competitor, can really make the contested catch, he can line up inside, he can line up outside, he can do a lot of different things and he’s come up real big for us. He has 115 catches and they’ve all been important catches. He’s a leading third-down target. He’s a guy that does a lot of different things for us. He always impresses me.”

For the first time in his six NFL seasons, Hopkins has had the luxury of the same starting quarterback for every game.

But this season has presented other challenges.

“This year has been interesting because Hop’s been banged up and he hasn’t always been able to be out there at practice,” O’Brien said. “They’ve had to do a lot behind the scenes, meeting together in the facility, outside the facility, making sure that they’re on the same page with route-running, signals, seeing the film the same way, seeing the defense the same way, the coverage the same way. They’ve worked hard to try to get on the same page each and every week.”

Despite a nagging ankle injury, Hopkins has not missed a game this season. He has been limited in practice, even listed as questionable heading into Week 16 at Philadelphia. After testing out his ankle pregame, Hopkins said he was good to go. In the last weeks of the regular season, Hopkins has averaged just over 140 yards per game and caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winning score against the New York Jets on Dec. 15.

“It’s been challenging not being able to practice with my guys like I want to, being out there, just having fun with the fellas,” Hopkins said. “That’s why I look forward to coming to work every day, just being around my teammates, not just going out there and making plays on Sunday. It’s been challenging from that aspect, but it’s been good. My play has correlated to us winning games, so I feel like me personally, this is my best season. We won the division. Best record I’ve had since I’ve been here yet.”

In Week 4 at Indianapolis, Hopkins finished with a game-high 169 yards receiving on 10 catches and one touchdown. On Saturday, the Texans will host the Colts in the AFC Wild Card playoff game. Kickoff is set for 3:35 p.m. CT on ESPN/ABC-13 and SportsRadio 610.

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