The 1-5 Houston Texans haven’t provided their fans with much in the form of excitement this season, but a young wide receiver who quietly emerged on Sunday may be worth paying close attention to going forward.
Largely lost in the shuffle of Houston’s latest embarrassing loss, a 31-3 drubbing handed to them by their AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts, an invigorating weapon may have revealed itself in Houston’s anemic passing offense. Rookie third-round pick Nico Collins made his return on Sunday after being activated from injured reserve just days ago and quietly impressed by securing four of six targets in the passing game for 44 yards.
The former Michigan standout now appears poised to serve as a crucial weapon in Houston's passing offense. Opportunities are often half the battle, and the early returns are incredibly encouraging on that front. Collins equaled tight end Jordan Akins for second in the team-lead in targets behind the always reliable Brandin Cooks.
Nick Caserio’s Texans have little to play for down the stretch and would be wise to utilize the remaining games on their schedule as an opportunity to further evaluate the young players on their roster. It's a likely development that should lead to Collins receiving plenty of opportunities to prove himself as a worthy weapon of the future.
Collins' second-half outlook only improves when you consider that starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor is reportedly inching closer to making his return and recapturing the Texans' starting quarterback job. Taylor will almost certainly push the ball down the field on a more consistent basis than rookie signal-caller Davis Mills has, an advancement that should pair nicely with Collins' penchant for getting vertical.
Houston has gone through a plethora of changes inside their receiver room as of late. Veteran receiver Danny Amendola hasn't made an appearance since Week 2 and Houston should have little in the form of motivation to get him back on the field. It wasn't long ago that former Memphis standout Anthony Miller was expected to secure a prominent role in Houston's pass-catching corps, but Caserio and company quickly soured on Miller, ultimately releasing him after just two games. With Chris Conley now nursing a neck injury, Houston is quickly running out of reasons to not showcase Collins on an extremely consistent basis.
Collins is a big-play threat that possesses short-area acceleration, tremendous ball-skills, and deep speed. A mismatch on the boundary, Collins has all of the tools to develop into a quality NFL player.
Cooks routinely serves as the No. 1 option in Houston's offense, but even his immediate future hangs in the balance with the NFL trade deadline quickly approaching. Whether or not Cooks gets traded should have little bearing on the opportunities that are about to willingly present themselves to Collins in the coming weeks.
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