Whether he's returning punts or catching passes, DeAndre Carter says he's always trying to "provide a little spark" for the Texans.
The returner/receiver was claimed off waivers by the Texans during the bye week in early November. He made his debut at Washington, returning a punt for 16 yards and a kickoff for 18. Carter's averaging 9.1 yards per punt return, and he's caught 10 passes with the Texans for 101 yards.
"He was a good pickup for us," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's a tough guy, he's got good playing strength, he's really smart, so he's been able to pick up a lot of things for us offensively."
With Keke Coutee's hamstring injury, the Texans turned to Carter to play in the slot at receiver. He's responded, and he's loved playing with quarterback Deshaun Watson.
"It's been great," Carter said. "Just knowing that when you run your route, the ball's going to be where it needs to be when it needs to be there. Just talking through different intricacies of route-running, different plays, he's a smart quarterback. Great athlete. It's been great to work with him."
That connection between Watson and Carter was clear on the the 50-yarder late in the third quarter of Saturday's win at New York, which got the Texans offense moving and into Jets territory.
"We play at a pretty good tempo, and on that particular play, both guys were on the same page and sometimes it looks pretty good," O'Brien said.
It was the longest play of the game, and the longest reception of Carter's stint with Houston. It moved the Texans offense, which had gone 3-and-out on the drives prior, from it's own 13-yard line to the Jets' 37-yard line. Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a field goal six plays later to give the Texans a 19-15 advantage early in the fourth. Carter would finish the day with a pair of catches totaling 55 yards. He also rushed once for seven yards, and returned a trio of punts for 17 yards. He took a kickoff out of the end zone for 28 yards as well.
Carter's shown flashes in the return game, and come close to breaking loose for a score on a few occasions. He described his mindset as he's awaiting a punt to float down his way.
"I'm aggressive back there," Carter said. "I think that's a mindset you've got to have when you have a special team returner role. I'm just trying to make a play. You get a big return on the punt return game, on the kick return game, it's a huge spark for your team."
O'Brien is "really glad" Carter's a Texan. The Sacramento State product spent the early part of the season with the Eagles, before he was placed on waivers.
"He's explosive, he's quick and the Texans are fortunate to have him," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. "He's a guy that if he gets offensive snaps, obviously, they can move him around the formation."
Carter and the Texans face Philadelphia this Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 3/2/2021)