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Hopkins expects double teams until rookies produce


Perhaps the greatest unknown heading into the 2016 season -- and the most fascinating unit heading into the NFL preseason -- is the Houston Texans' offense.

The team locked Brock Osweiler into a hefty deal after just seven starts with the Broncos last year. Then, the Texans spent their first and third-round picks on explosive, field-stretching wide receivers (Will Fuller and Braxton Miller) to pair with DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins, who had an incredible 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns despite minimal quarterback play, is enthused. Maybe no more double teams, as he noted on draft night. But for now, his enthusiasm is guarded.


Draft coverage:

"I'm still going to get double-teamed until those guys go out there and do something," he said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

He added: "When you bring in two wide receivers, it makes everybody say, 'OK, all right, there's a little more competition in this room, which is good. It's going to help out the team. I've heard good things about them so far."

Wilson's time line is worth a look Saturday if only because Hopkins, who was hosting a youth football camp, had some interesting things to say about the Texans' place in the AFC South ("hopefully, we're still the team to beat") and his contract ("I'm just a country boy from South Carolina. I don't really understand all that stuff").

The most interesting comments related to Houston's offense.

"To me it doesn't really matter as long as they got somebody to throw me the football at least 20 yards downfield," Hopkins said of the quarterback situation. He added that Osweiler is "demanding of you to be your best."

"I've been very impressed with Brock's leadership role so far. He brought guys to Arizona to go out there and train when he didn't have to. It was voluntary, but he also demanded our best when we were out there. The way he's leading guys, just little things like that, you can tell he wants to be great."

At this point, Hopkins is the most valuable player on Houston's roster not named J.J. Watt and he knows it. He also knows that a strong performance from Will Fuller and any contribution from Braxton Miller will elevate the Texans' offense well beyond the league's 19th best offense as they were last season. It would theoretically elevate Hopkins into a sweet spot for his second contract as well.

But that is the beauty of the great unknown. On paper, all of this works. In practice, Fuller and Miller will need to live up to expectations.