Keke Coutee earns praise after Sunday's win over Patriots

With just 10 seconds left in the second quarter, Keke Coutee caught a six-yard touchdown pass against the New England Patriots. The third-year wide receiver has struggled this season to get playing time behind a talented position group. This week, the Texans released kick returner DeAndre Carter and in Sunday's 27-20 win over the Patriots, both Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills left the game early with injuries.

Coutee finally got his chance.

"Coutee, I'll tell you what, you've got to take your hat off to the guy because he hasn't played since Baltimore, but he comes to practice every day, he works really hard," interim head coach Romeo Crennel said. "And then when he gets the opportunity to go in and play, he shows what his ability is and what he can bring to the team. That's what I tell all of them, that if you're not in the game and if you are not there, you need to study the game plan because you just don't know when we're going to call you up, when we're going to put you in the game, and if you go in the game you have to perform and he performed very well."

Since Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens, Coutee hasn't caught a pass. He has been inactive for five games of the last seven games. In Week 11 against New England, Coutee stepped in offense and also fielded two punt returns for 14 yards.

Deshaun Watson has seen flashes from his young receiver, particularly during Coutee's rookie year. In 2018, Coutee battled a hamstring injury that sidelined him for 10 games. When he was healthy, Coutee had two 100-yard receiving performances that year, both against the Indianapolis Colts. In Week 4, he caught 11 passes for 109 yards and helped the Texans snap their 0-3 losing streak. The next week, he caught a touchdown pass on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys in his first career start. In his first playoff appearance, Coutee caught 11 passes for 110 receiving yards and the only touchdown in the Texans AFC Wild Card loss to the Colts following the 2018 regular season.  

Despite not having many game reps with him in 2020, Watson has given Coutee sage advice for keeping a positive outlook and making the most of his opportunities.

"Just do what he does," Watson said.  "I mean, he's been practicing with us. He's been there studying and with all the meetings and with all the four guys that's been playing. So, you know, for him to come in and do what he do and just be ready, that's always a good thing. He knows that I have trust in him and I'm going to continue to encourage him and get him more playing time and you know whatever he gets his opportunity, to go in there and have success."

The Texans will next face the Detroit Lions on Thursday for their nationally-televised Thanksgiving Day game. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.