T.J. Yates and DeAndre Hopkins have made quite a duo despite their short time together.
"Absolutely, 100 percent trust in that guy," Yates said. "You throw it up in the vicinity with that guy and he will go and get it for you, so that is something that we have to go and do. We have to get him the ball."
In fact, it was Yates that threw Hopkins his very first NFL touchdown reception in the 2013 preseason opener at Minnesota.
"All his did was throw it up and I came down with a completion," Hopkins recalled. "The history that we have, that's kind of how it's been with us."
History is repeating itself.
Just a few weeks after being re-signed by the Texans, Yates entered the Monday night game at Cincinnati. Yates connected with Hopkins on a highlight-reel worthy 22-yard touchdown to give the Texans a 10-6 lead. The following week against the Jets, Hopkins had a two-touchdown performance with 118 yards receiving with Yates under center.
Since Week 11, Hopkins has not been able to post another 100-yard game. The challenge is that Hopkins has been getting lot of attention for his spectacular catches, especially from opposing defenses.
"Right now people are doubling him quite a bit," head coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "That's just the way it goes when you're an elite receiver and I think he understands that. Look, we're all going to work really hard to get DeAndre the ball. We're not crazy, we're not trying to not throw him the football. We all have to work together on it."
Now that Yates is starting on Sunday at Indianapolis, it will be a balancing act between feeding Hopkins the ball more and spreading it around among the other offensive weapons.
"We have a lot of guys on this team that can catch the ball. Nate (Washington), Cecil (Shorts III) and Griff (Ryan Griffin), those backs coming out of the backfield, we got a lot of weapons and we got to utilize them all," Yates said. "We know they are going to be giving some extra attention to Hop (DeAndre Hopkins), so we got to spread it around."
With both the Texans and the Colts vying for sole possession of first place in the AFC South, Yates will try to become the first quarterback in franchise history to win a game in Indianapolis. Yates gets his second start of 2015 with Brian Hoyer ruled out due to undergoing the league's concussion protocol.
The (6-7) Texans will kick off against the (6-7) Colts on Sunday at noon CT.