DeAndre Hopkins is only 22 years old but he's garnered enough NFL experience to become a leader, according to head coach Bill O'Brien. Throughout Phase 2 of offseasoning conditioning, he's been working with the rookie wide receivers.
"Hopkins has been a really good leader in the offseason, mentoring (Jaelen) Strong, (Keith) Mumphery, and (Chandler) Worthy and some of those guys," O'Brien said on last week's town call with season ticket holders. "I think we've got good leadership."
The Texans wide receiver group has seen many new faces this offseason: a trio of rookies in Strong, Mumphery, and undrafted free agent Worthy, two seasoned veteran free agents in Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts III. O'Brien likes the speed and route-running skills of Washington and Shorts. Both are able to get open and have a good understanding of the Texans offensive schemes. Damaris Johnson and Keshawn Martin returned this year and will also be competing for a starting roster spot.
With the departure of 12-year veteran Andre Johnson, Hopkins has stepped up off the field. O'Brien expects that he'll do the same on the field as well.
"You don't replace a guy like Andre Johnson," O'Brien said. "He was a guy who played here for many, many years. Had over 12,000 yards receiving and things like that. We're not looking at it that way. What we look at is basically how we slot the receivers. We have a No. 1, 2, 3, 4, and a 5 and right now we feel really good about where the competition is at the position. We feel good about Hopkins, obviously he's going to have a really good year."
The Texans rookies and veterans begin OTAs on Tuesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.