HOUSTON -- Almost a month into training camp, the Houston Texans' wide receiver group is thin due to injuries.
During practice on Monday, the Texans were without six receivers: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, Braxton Miller, Bruce Ellington, Devin Street and Riley McCarron. Of that group, only Ellington (four catches for 93 yards) and McCarron (three catches for six yards) played in Saturday's preseason victory over the New England Patriots.
Fuller is expected to miss around half of the season with a broken collarbone. Hopkins likely won't play in the next two preseason games, but should be ready for Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Bill O'Brien has said Hopkins is on a pitch count until the season-opener and his goal is making sure Hopkins "feels 100 percent when he practices" and "making sure that when the season starts he's ready to go."
O'Brien did not hesitate when he was asked if he was concerned about having so many of the team's wide receivers missing practice.
"Nope," the head coach said.
On Saturday, quarterback Tom Savage was 8-of-9 for 98 yards and a touchdown, with a perfect passer rating of 149.1. And he did that without three of the Texans' top four receivers on the field.
"We have a really talented group in that room and all the guys really stepped up and they made some plays and they did a good job," Savage said.
Last season, the Texans struggled with injuries at the position; Hopkins was the only receiver to play in all 16 regular season games. Fuller played in 14 games, and Jaelen Strong and Miller suffered season-ending injuries.
Strong will certainly be on the Texans' 53-man roster after training camp and Houston is counting on his production while Fuller is out. Strong had two catches for 11 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.
"I thought it was good to see [Strong] get that touchdown catch," O'Brien said. "He's working hard. It's a competitive position and I think he's doing a good job. So it was good to see him do that tonight."
The Texans other options at receiver include 2016 undrafted free agent Wendall Williams, undrafted free agents Chris Thompson and Justin Hardee and training camp free-agent additions Dres Anderson, Marcus Leak and Germone Hopper. Versatile running back Tyler Ervin could see some time at receiver as well.
The time without the starting wide receivers has given those wideouts competing for roster spots the chance to get more playing time, and Savage said he has seen the young receivers taking advantage of it.
"Those guys, they really had their nose in the books that week and they were getting ready," Savage said. "Obviously there's the timing issue and stuff without guys being there, but we worked after practice and we got some stuff done."