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Despite youth, Texans rookies making big impact

The Texans rookies have been busy.

Two games into 2018, six of their eight draft picks have suited up in a game, and a seventh in receiver Keke Coutee might do so this Sunday against the Giants.

Some of their undrafted rookies, like punter Trevor Daniel and receiver Vyncint Smith, have chipped in as well.

“We feel good about that class,” head coach Bill O’Brien said. “Coutee hasn’t been able to be out on the field yet but a lot of guys have really contributed and played key roles.”

The Texans have seen Smith, Daniel, tackle Martinas Rankin, tight end Jordan Thomas and safety Justin Reid all make starts at their respective positions.

Further, tight end Jordan Akins and outside linebackers Duke Ejiofor and Peter Kalambayi have made contributions as well.

“It’s hard as a rookie to make that jump from college to professional football, but we feel good about their work ethic, the way that they try to improve every day, and they’re good players,” O’Brien said. “There’s a lot that they, obviously, have not experienced yet and that’s how they’re going to get better, but we really have a lot of faith in that draft class.”

Akins and Ejiofor, according to O’Brien, have both earned more playing time. Ejiofor tallied a sack on Sunday at Tennessee in his first regular season game as a pro.

“There’s a lot to like about Duke,” O’Brien said. “Duke is a young player. He’s got really good length, smart guy, tough guy. He’s learning how to play the position that we’re asking him to play.”

Akins, meanwhile, has caught four passes for 32 yards. O’Brien would like to see the rookie from Central Florida get the ball a bit more.

“He did some good things in the game the other day, really good things,” O’Brien said. “He’s getting better every single week, every day. He’s another guy that works very hard. So, I could see his role increasing as we move forward, sure.”

The rookies, along with the rest of the Texans, will get another chance for more contributions this Sunday at NRG Stadium versus the New York Giants.

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