The rookie wide receivers made big plays and showed promise in Thursday night's 27-20 loss to the Colts with veteran receivers Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts III ruled out with injuries. Jaelen Strong made his first two NFL catches in the endzone and became the first player in Texans history to score two receiving touchdowns in his first career game.
Strong, inactive for Week 2 through 4, was just waiting for his chance to contribute.
"I was hungry, ready to go out there and do whatever I could to help my team win," Strong said. "Whatever it is."
Strong missed time in OTAs with a hamstring injury and was struggling to catch up in training camp. Bill O'Brien wanted to see him practice better before activating him for a game. Strong has improved in all aspects of his game over the past few weeks.
"Jaelen really got his first opportunity last night and came up with a couple big plays," O'Brien said. "He blocked in the running game. He did some things. I think the more he plays, the better he'll get. He's a big, strong guy. He runs well. He's really done a good job the last couple of weeks of paying attention to detail a little bit better. I think, like I said, the more he plays, the better he'll get."
Keith Mumphery also came up big on special teams. He finished with two punt returns for 11 yards, although he did have one 36-yard return to the Houston 45-yard line that was negated with a holding penalty. Mumphery also added four catches for 23 yards.
"Mumph has come in here and really done a good job for us," O'Brien said. "Special teams-wise, he's getting better as a punt returner. Obviously, as a receiver, he's really done a good job for a rookie."
It may not be long before the Texans wide receivers see the return of their veterans. Shorts, who suffered a shoulder injury on the final offensive play in Atlanta, could be ready to return to action for his homecoming in Jacksonville.
"I would say Nate is in the day-to-day category, just like Cecil, but I would say that Cecil probably has a better chance to play against Jacksonville," O'Brien said. "I always have the right to change my mind on that though."
The Texans will begin a two-game tour of Florida, facing Jacksonville on Oct. 18 and then Miami in Week 7 on Oct. 25, before returning to NRG Stadium.