On Saturday, Deandre Hopkins was in Clemson giving back to the kids with his book bag giveaway, while Deshaun Watson was also in Tigertown hosting a football camp. Though they were separated by a few miles, the two will not be for much longer.
In three days, the two former Clemson stars will be in West Virginia, when the Houston Texans open training camp on Tuesday. Hopkins hopes he and Watson can develop a quick connection with each other once they get there.
“We have to put in the work,” Hopkins said prior to signing autographs at Dawson Field in Clemson. “It’s the NFL. Nothing comes easy. If we put in the work, the sky is the limit.”
Houston has made it to the playoffs in each of the last two years under head coach Bill O’Brien. With a defense loaded with talent and an offense that keeps getting better, many expect the Texans to be a serious contender in the AFC this season.
This will be Hopkins’ fifth training camp at Houston, and his third under O’Brien. Hopkins told Watson he needs to be ready because things are going to move fast once he gets into camp.
“This is the NFL. They give you a playbook and they expect you to know the plays,” Hopkins said. “He knows that, though. He is doing a great job right now. He is the type of kid that you really don’t have to tell him much. He gets it.”
Hopkins admits he has not had the opportunity to throw much with Watson this off-season because they have both been busy.
“He is building his brand and doing what he is supposed to do as an NFL quarterback,” Hopkins said. “We have talked a lot. We did some stuff, but it is all about communication in this league.”
As for what Watson can do in Houston, Hopkins did not speak too much about the subject on Saturday, though he did say prior to the NFL Draft, “I’m pretty sure he’d like to throw me the football.” But don’t get Hopkins wrong, he’d like for Watson to throw him the ball as well.
Hopkins is the Texans’ No. 1 wide receiver after the former Clemson star became an All-Pro in 2015 following a year in which he caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last year, as Houston struggled to find a quarterback, Hopkins numbers dropped as he caught just 78 passes for 954 yards and just four touchdowns.
Watson was an All-American at Clemson in 2015 and ’16 where he threw for more than 4,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, while completing 67 percent of his passes. He also threw for a Clemson record 41 touchdown passes last year while leading the Tigers to the national championship, the programs first in 35 years.
“He is a fellow Clemson guy,” Hopkins said. “We went through the same workouts. We had the same struggles here. We stayed in the same dorm rooms. You know to have a Clemson guy with me, it’s great. To see him get drafted and to go in the round everyone knows he was supposed to be at, it was awesome.”
Watson is expected to be in a quarterback battle with Tom Savage, who quarterbacked the Texans for a few games in 2016 and will come into training camp listed as the No. 1 guy on the depth chart.
However, Watson was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, a spot the Texans moved up 13 spots to get. In other words, Watson is expected to compete for the starting job, and it starts this year.
“Tom Savage did a great job last year when he came in helping us win some games,” Hopkins said. “So Deshaun has a great guy to look up to in the quarterback room and I’m sure Tom will help him out.”
–Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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