Texans-Giants game features top WRs in Hopkins, Beckham
HOUSTON (AP) — It will be a showcase of two of the NFL’s best receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. when the Houston Texans and New York Giants meet on Sunday with both teams looking for their first win.
Hopkins likes Beckham’s determination and grit, and sees similarities between himself and the New York star.
“Of course. He makes plays no matter where the ball is,” Hopkins said. “He’s not the tallest, I’m not the tallest, but he (goes) up and gets it. He just makes plays.”
Beckham is a fan of Hopkins and said he has been admiring him since he was in college.
“I love his game,” Beckham said. “I remember when we were playing them here and he had that catch against Prince (Amukamara) down the field and they called it back. Trust me, I have been watching him, watching him a long time.”
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt raved about the knack both players have for making difficult catches look easy.
“I know they both can catch anything you throw their way,” he said. “I know they both find a way to get open and find a way to make catches that 99 percent of people wouldn’t be able to make, so they’re obviously special playmakers, both of them.”
Hopkins has 188 yards receiving with a touchdown this season and Beckham has 162 yards receiving. Giants coach Pat Shurmur noted that 6-foot-1 Hopkins is a bit bigger than the 5-11 Beckham, but also sees many of the same qualities in the two receivers.
“Their production can be similar in a lot of ways (and) I think they’ve got a lot of similar traits in terms of their competitive nature, their spirit, their ability to win their one-on-one matchups. There’s really a lot of similarities. I think Hopkins is a little bit bigger, if I’m not mistaken, but for the most part, they’re very similar guys.”
Both teams will be looking for a big game from their star receivers to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole. The Texans lost to Tennessee 20-17 last week and the Giants fell to the Cowboys 20-13.
Some things to know about New York’s game against Houston:
New York running back Saquon Barkley set a franchise record with 14 receptions last week against the Cowboys and tied the NFL mark for most catches by a rookie. The second overall pick in this year’s draft was asked if getting that many catches was a surprise.
“If any running back told you that he expected to have 14 catches in a game, he’ll be lying to you,” he said. “So obviously I did not expect that, but ... (the) Dallas Cowboys did a great job defensively taking away the deep threats and as a quarterback you got to go through your progressions and sometimes you go through your progressions and there’s a check down to your running back. It just happened to be more times this game.”
Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney raved about the young running back.
“He catches all the balls for them,” he said. “He does everything for them. He’s a very versatile back. He can catch it, run it. There’s nothing the guy can’t do. It’s going to take a whole team effort to get him down on the ground.”
SEARCHING FOR A SACK
Watt had a solid performance last week in his second game since sitting out the final 11 games last year after breaking his leg, recording two tackles for losses and forcing a fumble. But the player who has twice led the NFL in sacks in his career still hasn’t taken down the quarterback this season. It’s been more than two years since Watt last recorded a sack after he also missed 13 games in 2016 because of a back problem. His last sack came Sept. 18, 2016, when he had 1 1/2 against the Chiefs.
He joked about needing to up his game since nose tackle D.J. Reader already has two this season.
“He leads the team in sacks from the nose guard position, so I need to start doing my job a little better,” Watt said.
There are definite areas of concern for the Giants. Veteran John Greco is now the starting center. He replaces Jon Halapio, who broke his lower right leg and ankle last week. LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) has not played this season and is not full speed. Without their best pass rusher, New York has one sack this season. The biggest weakness might be at cornerback with starter Eli Apple nursing a hamstring. B.W. Webb replaced him in the third quarter and the Cowboys went after him. Expect the Texans to do the same with Will Fuller and Hopkins.
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, New Jersey, contributed to this report.