Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was exactly who the Texans thought he was in their first practice of rookie mini-camp on Friday morning.
The first-round draft pick out of Clemson made several impressive catches, including a one-handed stab with his left hand early in practice and a leaping grab on a deep ball over the middle, as the Texans worked inside the Methodist Training Center.
"(I was) impressed," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "Very impressed. (He was) very competitive, that's number one. We knew that. Tremendous hands, got big hands, has no problem with the ball, coming out of a break – all those things we knew we were getting. But I loved the competitive nature of him, just watching him come out here and compete today."
Hopkins (6-1, 214) has a friendly rivalry brewing with safety D.J. Swearinger, a second-round pick from South Carolina. The two rookies grew up about 90 minutes from each other in South Carolina and faced each other every year as rivals during their college careers.
"He made one big catch and then when he came back on the sideline, he sort of stared me down," Swearinger said after practice on Friday morning. "But it's all good. We're going to talk trash, but we're good boys, man."
Hopkins will be expected to contribute immediately in 2013, likely as a starter opposite Andre Johnson. For now, the talented 20-year-old rookie was happy to have his first practice in the books.
"It felt good just to put on a helmet," Hopkins said. "I've been doing a bunch of talking. I felt like a President almost being up on podiums and talking, but it felt great coming out here just being able to do what I love."
Kubiak said Hopkins and rookie wide receiver Alan Bonner (5-10, 193), a sixth-round pick out of Jacksonville State, could both help the Texans improve after the catch.
"I like guys that know what they want to do with the ball even before they catch it," Kubiak said. "And you can watch (Hopkins) and Bonner; before they put their hands on a ball, they're ready to go do something with it. We need to get better with our yards after the catch with our group, and these guys should give us a chance to do that."