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Texans WR Will Fuller blossoming with Deshaun Watson

September 27, 2018

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans receiver Will Fuller has played in six games where Deshaun Watson started at quarterback.

He has had a receiving touchdown in all six of those games.

Fuller and Watson have connected for nine touchdowns in limited action on the field together.

“Just practicing hard and getting our rhythm down in practice,” Fuller said of his connection with Watson before Thursday’s practice. “I think that’s the biggest key — just the way we practice.”

With Fuller’s 6-yard touchdown catch in Houston’s 27-22 loss to the Giants in Week 3, he set the Texans franchise record with the most touchdown catches in a player’s first 25 games.

For the Texans (0-3), Fuller has been one of the bright spots. He had five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown against New York and eight catches for 113 yards against Tennessee in Week 2. Fuller missed the opener in New England with a hamstring injury, which he said now, “feels great.”

Texans receivers coach John Perry said he hasn’t been surprised by Fuller’s productivity early in the season because of the work that he put in during the offseason.

Perry said Fuller approached him two years ago at organized team activities shortly after he was drafted 21st overall in the 2016 draft, asking what he needed to work on to improve.

Perry said he focused, at first, on improving things that Fuller could do well, and Fuller has since blossomed and expanded his abilities elsewhere.

“He’s really worked hard on those things,” Perry said. “He works before and after practice with Deshaun. He takes his craft very seriously, and that connection has worked really well because they’re both very good players.”

Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has also developed a strong chemistry with Watson, said he enjoys having Fuller on the field and praised how much his speed opens up the offense.

“It changes a lot of things,” Hopkins said. “He’s a very fast guy and has speed that you can’t coach. To have safeties and corners have to focus on him running past them, it helps my game out.”

In his first two seasons out of Notre Dame, Fuller missed a total of eight games with various injuries, including a broken collarbone and fractured ribs in 2017. He also struggled at times in his rookie season with dropped passes, a problem that could have been partially due to the quarterback carousel the Texans had in 2016.

Now with Watson as the franchise quarterback, Fuller is growing increasingly comfortable both on the field and off.

“I just love playing with him,” Fuller said. “It’s fun out there with him.”

Before Thursday’s practice, Fuller played table tennis with fellow third-year player, nose tackle D.J. Reader. Even though he has added some bulk, Fuller at 184 pounds, has a lot less size than the 347-pound Reader, but he used quickness and finesse to make quick work of the nose tackle.

The Texans are off to their first 0-3 start since 2008, but the locker room remains upbeat. Getting a win in Indianapolis on Sunday would certainly help them get going in the right direction.

“I feel like we just need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot with the penalties, especially earlier on in the game,” Fuller said. “We just need to stay in front of the sticks and play our game.”

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