HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Deshaun Watson will have nearly a full assortment of offensive weapons at his disposal when he starts his third NFL game on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium.
In Watson’s first start against the Bengals he had no tight ends to throw to and had wide out Bruce Ellington out with a concussion. Things got better against New England last Sunday when tight end Ryan Griffin returned from a concussion, whom Watson threw a touchdown pass to
Will Fuller, Houston 2016 first round pick, has been missing from the team since training camp after breaking his collarbone before the team’s first preseason game. Fuller returned to practice for the first time last week and is likely to be active for the first time on Sunday when the Texans host the division rival Titans.
“(Fuller) can stretch the field, he can do some things that I can’t do that some of these other receivers in the locker room can’t do, so it’s good to have that dynamic out there on the field. It opens up our playbook a little bit more,” Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said about Fuller on Thursday.
With a rookie quarterback that became the Houston starter earlier than expected, and injuries to several key offensive players, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who also serves as the Texans offensive coordinator was a bit handcuffed with the offensive plays available to him.
The Texans offense took a step forward against New England with 33 points and Watson throwing for over 300 yards; both rarities in the O’Brien era in Houston. O’Brien knows that as the weeks go by with Watson, the more of his complex offense they will be able to run.
“I felt like we opened it up against New England. I really did. We didn’t have (Will) Fuller (V), obviously, but we’re adding to what we do every week,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “Obviously having a full complement of players helps you do that, guys that have been in the system. As we move along here, we move forward, I think you’ll see us do more and more.”
The lack of options at receiver has hurt the Texans. Top pass catching tight end CJ Fiedorowicz went on injured reserve after week one with a concussion and is at the very least out until the mid-point of the season. The Texans moved on from former third round pick Jaelen Strong and will only get Will Fuller back on the field this week.
O’Brien knows that as the weeks progress the more challenges and complexities he can throw at Watson, but having a healthy assortment of players is good for helping create the chemistry he needs with his targets.
“The chemistry of being able to work with Will (Fuller V) now, who’s been out since early in training camp, is a big thing,” O’Brien said. “Deshaun’s worked with Hop quite a bit, but having Will back in there, Deshaun’s now worked with Bruce (Ellington) for a while, Braxton (Miller) for a while. Just even relative to the offensive line, how he communicates things to them. I mean, all of those things – (Ryan) Griffin, (Stephen) Anderson, the backs, all of those things. The more and more you work with each other, the better it gets.”
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio