Hopkins stands out at Texans rookie camp
On Friday, the Clemson wide receiver got to what he really likes to do and he didn't disappoint anyone.
Hopkins made several good plays as rookie camp began, but really wowed the coaches when he went up over a defender and snagged a pass with one hand.
"It was just kind of instinct," he said. "I couldn't get my other hand on it, so I just kind of put one hand up there and it stuck in it."
It was exactly the kind of start the Texans were looking for from Hopkins, who they drafted 27th overall in hopes of finally adding a big-time playmaker to line up opposite star Andre Johnson. He's the first receiver they've drafted in the opening round since Johnson, now 31, was taken third overall in 2003.
Coach Gary Kubiak was impressed.
"He's very competitive, that's No. 1 and we knew that," Kubiak said. "Has tremendous hands, big hands, so he has no problem with the ball. I loved the competitive nature of him just watching him out here today."
Hopkins was glad to get to work after a whirlwind couple of weeks filled with appearances and interviews.
"It felt great just to put on the helmet," he said. "I've been doing a bunch of talking, and I felt like a president almost being up on podiums and talking. So it felt great just to come out here just doing what I love."
The Biletnikoff Award semi-finalist led Clemson with 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior last season. His 24 catches of 20 yards or more were the most in the ACC.
The Texans need him to contribute immediately after cutting veteran Kevin Walter after the season and because of an injury to DeVier Posey, a third-round pick a year ago. Posey started contributing on offense late last season, but tore his Achilles tendon in Houston's playoff loss and is likely to miss a lot of time this season.
Houston further reinforced its receiving corps by adding Alan Bonner in the sixth round of the draft. Kubiak was eager to get a look at his new players before the entire team gets together for practice in a couple of weeks.
"We've got a lot of spots to fill from the standpoint of young guys helping our football team," Kubiak said. "So it gives us a three-day head start."
Kubiak said that Hopkins and Bonner, who played at Jacksonville State, share some of the same qualities that he looks for in receivers.
"I like guys that know what they want to do with the ball before they catch it," Kubiak said. "And you can watch (Hopkins) and Bonner and before they go to put their hands on a ball they're ready to go do something with it. We need to get better with our yards after the catch with our group, so these guys should give us a chance to do that."
Hopkins knows that the transition from college to the NFL won't be easy, but he believes studying the playbook and asking for help from veterans will make the process much smoother. He is very confident and feels like he'll start for Houston from Day 1.
"Of course, that's what I expect," he said. "I hope that's what everybody expects."
One Texan who certainly wasn't surprised by the performance of Hopkins on Friday was safety D.J. Swearinger. Swearinger, Houston's second-round pick this year, got an up-close look at Hopkins' skills when the receiver was a freshman.
Hopkins had seven receptions for 124 yards and beat Swearinger for a touchdown in a game that South Carolina won 29-7 in 2010.
"My sophomore year, his freshman year he got me with a double move and scored the first and only touchdown of that game," Swearinger said.
They've become friends since then, but it didn't stop the two from getting a bit intense during practice Friday.
"He made one big catch today and when he came back on the sideline he was sort of staring me down," Swearinger said with a laugh. "But it's all good. We're going to talk trash, but we're boys."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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