We here at BRB have spoken in the past about DeAndre Hopkins becoming the ‘‘leader’’ of the Texans’ wide receiver group, but that was always in the context of Hopkins being the highest quality player at the position. While leading by example has always been the formula for the past ten plus years in Houston, with the more reserved Andre Johnson in charge, there have been signs over the past few days and in particular during tOTAs that Hopkins might be stepping into a bigger leadership role within the offense.
Earlier this offseason, Hopkins expressed a willingness to take on more of a mentorship role within his position group. At 24 years old, Hopkins is the elder statesmen of the group, with his colleagues Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, and Jaelen Strong all younger and less experienced. Regardless of their youth, both Fuller and Miller are expected to contribute more this season. Texans Rick Smith even went as far to say that he is hoping for ‘‘exponential growth’’ from both of the Texans’ second-year wideouts. If this is going to occur, having Hopkins in the ear of both players is going to be beneficial for the development of the team’s future stars at the position.
Hopkins has had his own issues to deal with over the past three seasons with a constantly shifting QB situation that affected the quality of his play and his ability to produce on a consistent basis. In many ways, Hopkins has followed on in Andre Johnson’s footsteps, as both are/were exceptional talents trapped within the mortal hell that is the prospect of having Case Keenum or Brock Osweiler as your starting quarterback. While this could be seen as cause for frustration, Hopkins has focused his efforts on integrating with the Texans’ QBs:
Hopkins has the ear of the QBs & seems to be sharing wisdom routinely with Savage & Watson. Immediately looks for them after disconnect.— Jayson Braddock (@JaysonBraddock) May 24, 2017
DeAndre Hopkins was more of a vocal leader than at any point that I can recall in his Texans career. Not just w/ WRs, but entire group.— Jayson Braddock (@JaysonBraddock) May 24, 2017
Nuk has consistently been the Texans’ best offensive player despite being trapped in a truly awful situation. Instances like this are encouraging for a variety of reasons. Hopkins has expressed his willingness to stay with the Texans long-term, and if this additional responsibility is any indication, he is ready to make a commitment to the team that hopefully the team reciprocates within the next few months.
DeAndre Hopkins has been loyal to the Texans despite their failings. With the addition of Deshaun Watson, Hopkins’ role and influence is going to be massively important for the team’s chances of success going forward.