The battle at wide receiver is heating up with a number of players competing for a roster spot in Houston. Behind DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller V and Keke Coutee, young receivers have been making their mark at Texans training camp.
With seven games under his belt from last year, Vyncint Smith is working to build on his rookie campaign.
"I've seen him studying more," DeAndre Hopkins said. "Asking more questions. Knowing that he's going to be out there making plays like he did against Philadelphia. So, he's been attentive a lot."
The undrafted receiver out of Limestone caught his first career touchdown in the Week 16 game at Philadelphia, a 35-yard score to give the Texans a 30-29 lead in the fourth quarter. Smith, who also contributed on special teams, became the first rookie college free agent to start in Week 1 for the Texans in franchise history.
Smith's studying is paying off. Head coach Bill O'Brien says the extra effort plus familiarity with the offense has made him "a much improved player."
"I think he's got to take a jump, and he's done that in practice," O'Brien said. "We'll see how he does in the games, but he's become a better route runner. He knows our system better, and it's all about just being consistent with Vyncint, coming out here every single day and trying to get better from where he was the previous day.
Jester Weah spent the 2018 training camp with the Texans and was signed to the practice squad. After landing on the Reserve/Injured list in October, the 6-3, 209 wideout returned this offseason, bringing size and speed to camp this year.
"I think when he really understands the two different positions that we line him up in and he's not overthinking things and he can just go out there and play, I think that's a big deal," O'Brien said. "When he knows what to do, he's a very difficult guy to cover. He's got really good speed, he's got good hands, he's become a better route runner. He's a young player. Hasn't really played a whole lot in this league. So, he works hard on the practice field and I think the more he can know about our offense and really nail that down, he'll have a shot to make the team."
Tyron Johnson has quickly emerged as a player to watch this year in camp. The undrafted rookie played two seasons at Oklahoma State after transferring from LSU. In 2018, he ranked second on team, but recorded career highs in receptions (53), receiving yards (845), receiving touchdowns (7) and rushing touchdowns (1) for the Cowboys. Johnson, who also saw action as a kickoff and punt returner for OSU, can line up on either side or play outside as receiver.
"Good speed, hard worker, out here every day," O'Brien said. "You can see why he was a productive guy at [Oklahoma] State."
Other wide receivers competing in camp include Stephen Mitchell Jr., Stephen Louis, Johnnie Dixon and Chad Hansen.
Mitchell spent the second half of 2018 on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster for Week 17. Other undrafted wide receiver rookies in camp include Stephen Louis (North Carolina State) and Johnnie Dixon (Ohio State). Chad Hansen, drafted in the fourth round by the New York Jets in 2017, had stints with New England, Tennessee and Denver practice squads in 2018.
DeAndre Carter, who recorded 20 receptions for 195 yards and returned punts and kickoffs in seven regular season games last year, is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
Texans training camp practice resumes on Wednesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
Check out the best shots from Day 5 of training camp in Houston.