The phrase 'Aim High' isn't just the Air Force's slogan.
It's also the advice defensive end J.J. Watt gave recently to receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The rookie pass-catcher is throwing out the first pitch before Tuesday's Royals-Astros game at Minute Maid Park. Watt performed those same duties on Opening Day in late March.
Fittingly, Hopkins' first few weeks as a professional have also seen him aspiring for greatness, and his teammates are anxious to see his impact on the offense.
"He's such a dynamic player," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "He's just going to bring an added dimension to our offense."
Schaub cited Hopkins' "great" attitude and work ethic, and is looking forward to what Hopkins will bring to the squad.
The first-rounder from Clemson shined during the rookie minicamp earlier this month, and said playing the past two days against veterans has been an adjustment.
"The tempo is different and the speed," Hopkins said. "You're going against Pro Bowlers, so it's a big difference."
In each of the first two practices, he's found ways to get open and come down with the football. Today, however, there was a slight scare when he was tangled up on a play over the middle. Hopkins and cornerback Brandon Harris both landed awkwardly. Harris left the practice field and Hopkins suffered what he described as a bruised knee, and said he's okay. Head coach Gary Kubiak said Harris "is fine" as well.
That scare aside, Hopkins has definitely noticed a ratcheted-up intensity in the first pair of practices.
"The urgency of guys and the competitiveness that everybody has and the goal and the want-to and will," Hopkins said. "Everybody wants to be successful and they want success for this team."
Cornerback Kareem Jackson, himself a first-round pick in 2010, backed that idea up by speaking positively of the rookie receiver after Tuesday's work. The two squared off a few times on Monday and Tuesday, and Jackson came away impressed.
"He has great size," Jackson said. "He has great hands. He'll definitely make the tough catches. He's proven that. He'll definitely be an exciting player and definitely be able to help us.
Hopkins has practiced with the first-team offense, which meant he and Andre Johnson were the starting receivers. The veteran and team-captain also believes Hopkins is well on his way to contributing.
"He's picking up everything pretty well," Johnson said after Monday's practice. "He went and made some plays today and that's a good thing. I think day-by-day, he'll continue to get better and better."
Hopkins and the Texans won't practice on Wednesday, but return to the field on Thursday for the third OTA session at the Methodist Training Center.