DeAndre Hopkins did some homework before he ever stepped foot into one of Bill O'Brien's team meetings.
He studied the New England Patriots offense.
Entering his second year in the NFL, Hopkins wanted to get a jump start on learning the new offense that O'Brien and his coaching staff were bringing to Houston. Even at the age of 21, he knew that talent and athleticism wasn't going to be enough.
Hopkins turned to a friend, New England wide receiver Aaron Dobsen, for advice.
"It was very hard, I'm not going to lie," Hopkins said in an exclusive interview with Texans Radio. "I was kind of nervous in the offseason once we made that change, I started looking at the Patriots offense and just seeing things they were doing. I called my friend Aaron Dobsen, who was a receiver for them, and just asked him, 'How does this offense work and how does it run?' He told me, 'Man, you got to study. It's not an easy offense.'"
So Hopkins watched the Patriots games. He saw Dobson, the Patriots second-round pick in 2013, struggle in his rookie season. Hopkins also saw Tom Brady's frustration when Dobson would be "off track." He didn't want that for himself.
The Texans 2013 Rookie of the Year tried to learn what he could. He studied the routes that the Patriots receivers ran and worked on them himself. When Hopkins showed up to his first meeting, he was pleasantly surprised that he was familiar with what was expected of him.
"I saw some of the routes and I would work on those routes that I had seen the Patriots run, but the names and the formation of them were new to me," Hopkins said. "I kind of had a familiarity with the routes that they were running."
Hopkins has established himself as a leader on offense now as a third-year veteran. Head coach O'Brien recognizes the hard work that's gone into establishing the team's top receiver.
"If you look at DeAndre Hopkins, when we got here, we were always having to correct the guy on every play," O'Brien said via HBO's 'Hard Knocks.' "But, what did he do? He stuck with it, he took the coaching. He worked his butt off to be a good player. Now look at this guy, he's one of the top five guys on our team. This guy could be a force in this league."
The full radio interview with Hopkins will air on Tuesday's Texans All Access show (noon to 2 pm. CT) on SportsRadio 610 and HoustonTexans.com.
In celebration of his 23rd birthday, take a look at the best 23 photos of DeAndre Hopkins' career as a Houston Texan.