Reporting Nate Griffin
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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) Most in the media, as well as Texans fans and those prognosticators who think they really know the game of football, clamored for the Houston Texans to draft a play-making wide receiver during the early rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft. Wish granted! This writer, and so-called analyst, would have preferred an inside linebacker. Well, hindsight is not 20-20 in this case!
It appears the Texans knew exactly what they were doing in selecting Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins in the first round and Alan Bonner in the sixth.
Hopkins continues to stun anyone watching at training camp with acrobatic catches and will start opposite Pro Bowler Andre Johnson. Bonner, the sixth-round pick out of Jacksonville State, looks to etch his skill set in the minds of the coaching staff as well.
“[I’m] just trying to be the best fit for my team – just come in and have a role – trying to find my role right now.”
VERSATILITY – A BONUS
Along with Bonner, Johnson and Hopkins, the Texans have 8 other receivers in camp including Lestar Jean, Keyshawn Martin, Jeff Maehl, Andy Cruse, Alec Lemon, EZ Nwachukwu, and Mike Smith. Let’s also add Devier Posey who’s on the PUP list.
All listed above are talented. But, the harsh reality is only five or six will earn a roster spot and two of those five or six are currently taken by Johnson and Hopkins. Therefore, the value lies in versatility and knowing the position inside and out for those hoping to make the cut. Bonner gets it.
“I bring a different kind of game. I’m a special teams guy. I can return the ball. I can play inside and outside at receiver, and I probably can catch in traffic. I got good routes. I just think I can come in and anything the coaches ask me to do, I think I can just come in and help.”
NUMBERS EQUAL RESULTS
Bonner is showing his skill-set daily. He’s catching every pass thrown his way while also seemingly working well with Special Teams. He makes plays. But, we’re still waiting on that one jaw-dropping play that will cause a big pause at training camp. While stating that, it’s also fair to point out that good NFL receivers don’t necessarily need to be show-stoppers!
“My game that I bring to the table – I bring speed, quickness off the ball, and I get in my routes pretty fast, or just have precise routes. I try to catch the ball up top at all times and not have a lot of body catches. I try to catch the ball with my hands away from the body.”
During his time at Jacksonville State, Bonner excelled in the areas of intermediate route-running and reverses which undoubtedly caught the eyes of the Texans. He wasn’t flashy, just efficient. As a senior, he hauled in 50 passes for 859 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those are good numbers for a sixth-round draft pick.
SMOOTH, BUT CHIPPY
Watching the 5’11″ Bonner in camp brings another under-six-foot-receiver to mind that is a favorite of Bonner’s. Miles Austin came to the mind of SportsRadio 610 colleague Will Grubb while watching him at camp.
While Austin is a good guess, the receiver that Bonner admires is Smooth, as was Bonner’s nickname in high school. This receiver also plays hungry, which Bonner feels he’ll need to mimic as an under-sized receiver in the NFL.
“I just play with a chip on my shoulder at all times. I’m not going to let no guy, or any DB, just lock me down, stop me from doing anything. If I get stopped one time, I’m coming back the next play – hungry like – it’s nothing. I’m just coming out to fight each play and trying to win.”
Steve Smith, the 13-year veteran of the Carolina Panthers, is the guy Bonner likes. Smith is not a burner and smallish at 5’9”, 185 pounds. But, he has recorded seven-one-thousand-plus receiving-yard-seasons.
“I can relate to him. He’s a small guy and he made it in the league. (Also) Lance Moore from the Saints – good routes, good hands, and they know how to attack the ball. So, I just try to bring that kind of game to the field.”
So far, the Texans seem to like what they see of Bonner’s game.
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