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DeAndre Hopkins ready to shine Friday night

The first 11 days of training camp have seen DeAndre Hopkins make some highlight-reel catches against starting cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. Time-after-time, those defensive backs have blanketed the rookie receiver, only to see him come down with the ball for a dazzling reception.

And Hopkins hasn't been surprised by his early success.

"I haven't," Hopkins said on Tuesday. "I expected to do everything that I've done."

Selected in the first round in April, the former Clemson Tiger has given his coaches, teammates and fans plenty to talk about with the 2013 campaign rapidly approaching. He appreciates the kind words coming his way, but is quick to reciprocate.

"I'm going against great competition, top-notch Pro Bowl competition out here," Hopkins said. "So for those guys to say that, it's an honor. They are making me work. Nothing is easy out here. A lot of guys talking about me making tough catches, but those guys are making a lot of plays on me as well."

Friday night will bring a new challenge for Hopkins and the Texans, but it's one that quarterback Matt Schaub has been anxious to observe.

"When I saw a tape of him after we drafted him, I realized we had a kid that had size, had speed, had exceptional catching radius," Schaub said. "I'm excited to get him in a game environment when the defense doesn't know what he's going to be doing in his routes where as our defense kind has an idea of how we run our offense."

At just 21 years of age, he's the youngest player on the roster. But he hasn't shown it so far, according to head coach Gary Kubiak.

"He doesn't look like a very young player out here," Kubiak said. "He understands what we're doing. He's making a lot of plays every day. He's a worker and, as a coach, that's probably the greatest gift you can get."

During a Monday interview with the NFL Network’s Deion Sanders, receiver Andre Johnson was asked about Hopkins. Johnson didn't hesitate to offer up encouraging words.

"I can count on him," Johnson said. "He's showed a lot of promise. He's a great talent. He's making plays out here every day."

When Hopkins and the Texans hit the turf at Mall of America Field in the Metrodome Friday evening, it will be a special moment, but not overwhelming.

"It's going to be great," Hopkins said. "It's a dream come true, but I'm not really worried about that. As soon as I got out here the first day, all the dreams and stuff go out the window and it's time to go to work."


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