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Deep Slant #2: A Bevy of WRs


Remember when the big issue in the offseason was adding another wide receiver? Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, selecting a receiver to complement the eleven-year veteran Andre Johnson was top priority. After twelve days of training camp, I filled one-and-a-half legal pads full of noteable plays, questions, injury updates, and daily news from camp. The question rose every day:

"How does DeAndre Hopkins look?"

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to attend an open practice at camp, prepare yourselves for greatness. Most receivers would pale in comparison to Johnson, the Texans' all-time leading receiver with 818 receptions for 11,254 yards and 56 touchdowns over one decade, but Hopkins is looking pretty darn good in his own right. When Hopkins is involved in a play, I can set my camera to the exact moment he will come down with the ball, because nine times out of ten, he usually will. Those bright orange size 3XL gloves are encasing a pair of solid hands that will undoubtedly make some highlight reel-worth catches this season.

I am also impressed with the quiet confidence of the second-year Keshawn Martin, who could be on the verge of becoming a solid slot receiver for this offense. He runs his routes solidly this season, even impressing veteran safety Danieal Manning.

"He's making plays, getting aggressive, attacking the ball," Manning said during training camp. "He's definitely making our DBs, everybody work a lot, making us better."

In 2012 Martin set a new individual season record for the Texans on special teams. Martin ranked fifth in the NFL among punt returners with an average of 12.1 yards. Martin is the main man on punt returns and kickoff returns.

Next is a whole list of undrafted rookie receivers who, on any given day, can impress.  The very first day of camp, everyone was abuzz with the long catches made by Alec Lemon, the rookie out of Syracuse. Head coach Gary Kubiak has wanted to incorporate EZ Nwachukwu, former Texas A&M receiver, into kickoff returns. Sixth-round draft choice Alan Bonner has had a lot competition in camp from the undrafted rookies as well as third-year receiver Lestar Jean who is fighting for a spot on the depth chart.

And who can forget about second-year receiver DeVier Posey? Posey, who is recovering from an Achilles injury suffered in January, is on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list but is on the sidelines every day in good spirits. Posey is fighting to start the season not on the PUP list. When he does make his return, that could shake up the wide receivers all over again.

All in all, there is an abundance of receivers on the Texans roster right now. Who will make the cut? It is a good problem to have.

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