Of the impressive aspects of DeAndre Hopkins' 2017 season, and there are many, his ability to move the chains is elite.
The Texans receiver is second in the NFL with 52 receptions that have gone for first downs. With 69 total catches on the season, that means 75.4 percent of his catches have given the Texans offense a first down.
Look at what happened on Monday Night Football: he was thrown at 13 times. Three passes were incomplete. He caught two that didn't result in a Texans' first down. Eight passes, whether he caught them or drew one of five penalties from the Ravens, gave the Texans a fresh set of downs.
"Hopkins is very difficult to defend," Tennessee head coach Mike Mularkey said. "They do a very good job of trying to find the matchups and moving them around and he's just a tough guy to defend."
With 1,004 receiving yards in 2017, Hopkins is on pace to finish with 1,461 yards, if he keeps up his 91.3 yards per game average. The Texans offense struggled to get him the ball in 2016, but Deshaun Watson and Tom Savage have succeeded in feeding their offensive weapon.
"You just give him a shot," Savage said. "He's a tough player and he'll come down with the ball so you just have to throw it to him. I think we've been doing that all year."
Getting that shot is something Hopkins' relishes. The Clemson product embraces the pressure that comes with being a target for his quarterback, and more importantly, a target for opposing defenses.
"I feel like it's on me," Hopkins said. "I want the game to be on me. If it's third-and-1 and we got to get it, I want them to come to me. I want that pressure to be on me because I feel like I work that hard day-in and day-out and just over time to have that pressure on me, and I like it."
Atop the NFL with nine touchdown catches this year, Hopkins is also tied for the League lead with 12 catches of 25 yards or more this season. Additionally, his 407 receiving yards in the fourth quarter is tops in the NFL.
"He does get stronger as the game goes on," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "It's a credit to him. No doubt about the fact that he gets stronger as the game goes on."
A remarkable year, so far, for Hopkins. But he's not satisfied.
"No, my team is four-and-something, so," Hopkins said.
The wins have been scarce over the last month, but Savage hasn't had trouble finding Hopkins in that span. In the four games he's started since Watson went on injured reserve, Savage has passed to Hopkins for 398 yards.
"I'll keep saying it week-in and week-out: he's the best receiver in the league and yeah, it's a blessing to have a guy like that out there," Savage said.
Hopkins, Savage and the Texans face the Titans this Sunday in Nashville at noon CT.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 12/29/2020)