HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – DeAndre Hopkins expects Saturday’s AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the New England Patriots to be business as usual from the secondary’s defense of him. He does not expect Patriots stand-out corner Malcolm Butler to be the one standing across from him to lock him down.
“As long as I’ve been playing the Patriots, Malcolm Butler lined up against me zero times,” Hopkins said Thursday when he was asked about Butler’s abilities. “He makes plays on the ball. Very instinctive. But he hasn’t guarded me since I played the Patriots in all three years.”
Hopkins has had modest success against the Patriots. In the Texans week three 27-0 loss to the Patriots, Hopkins caught just four passes for 56 yards without a score. In three career games against New England, Hopkins has accounted for 185 yards without a touchdown.
The Patriots doubled Hopkins with Logan Ryan, and a safety over the top, and having Butler cover the Texans receiver on the opposite side of the field with single coverage. Hopkins thinks he will see a similar look on Saturday
“It could,” Hopkins said when asked if he thought the Patriots could change their scheme against him. “The last two years I’ve played them they had the same kind of scheme against me and they won the game. So I’m not sure they would change that scheme.”
As Hopkins has ascended to star status, he has drawn more double teams, and he’s felt it the most this year as he saw his season yardage total dip under 1000 yards after collecting over 1500 last season. Hopkins has learned that there is no system or route you can utilize for beating double teams
“There’s not a certain route that you can go draw down to beat two guys doubling you. You just got to go out there and play football. It’s not easy, but a lot of guys get double teamed – Antonio Brown, Julio Jones. I just watch film on those guys to see what they’re doing, some things, because there’s not a certain route that you can draw up to beat it.”
The Texans enter Saturday as one of the biggest underdogs in the history of the NFL postseason with some sportsbooks spotting Houston as many as 16 points. Hopkins is aware of the magnitude of the moment and understands that an upset over the Patriots would put the Texans in a different light around the league.
“We have a tremendous chance to make a big statement not just for us but for the league in general because we know the type of team we have. We don’t make excuses. We just go out there and get the job done.”
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