Flashy wide­outs ready as Tex­ans take on Gi­ants

Hop­kins ad­mires Beck­ham Jr., and the feel­ing is very much mu­tual.

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SPORT SUNDAY - By Kristie Rieken

HOUS­TON — It will be a show­case of two of the NFL’s best re­ceivers, De­An­dre Hop­kins and Odell Beck­ham Jr., when the Hous­ton Tex­ans and New York Gi­ants meet to­day with both teams look­ing for their first win.

Hop­kins likes Beck­ham’s de­ter­mi­na­tion and grit, and he sees sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween him­self and the New York star.

“He makes plays no mat­ter where the ball is,” Hop­kins said. “He’s not the tallest, I’m not the tallest, but he (goes) up and gets it. He just makes plays.”

Beck­ham is a fan of Hop­kins and said he has ad­mired him since he was in col­lege.

“I love his game,” Beck­ham said. “I re­mem­ber when we were play­ing them here and he had that catch against Prince (Amuka­mara) down the field, and they called it back. Trust me: I have been watch­ing him — watch­ing him a long time.”

Hous­ton de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt raved about the knack both play-

ers have for mak­ing dif­fi­cult catches look easy.

“I know they both can catch any­thing you throw their way,” he said. “I know they both find a way to get open and find a way to make catches that 99 per­cent of peo­ple wouldn’t be able to make, so they’re ob­vi­ously spe­cial play­mak­ers, both of them.”

Hop­kins has 188 yards re­ceiv­ing with a touch­down, and Beck­ham has 162 yards re­ceiv­ing. Gi­ants coach Pat Shur­mur noted that the 6-foot-1 Hop­kins is a bit big­ger than the 5-11 Beck­ham but sees many of the same qual­i­ties.

“Their pro­duc­tion can be sim­i­lar in a lot of ways, (and) I think they’ve got a lot of sim­i­lar traits in terms of their com­pet­i­tive na­ture, their spirit, their abil­ity to win their one-on-one matchups. There’s re­ally a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties.”

Both teams will be look­ing for a big game from their star re­ceivers to avoid fall­ing into an 0-3 hole. The Tex­ans lost to Ten­nessee 20-17 last week, and the Gi­ants fell to the Cow­boys 20-13.

Some things to know about New York’s game against Hous­ton:

Barkley’s re­ceiv­ing: New York run­ning back Saquon Barkley set a fran­chise record with 14 re­cep­tions last week against the Cow­boys and tied the NFL mark for most catches by a rookie. The sec­ond over­all pick in this year’s draft was asked if get­ting that many catches was a sur­prise.

“If any run­ning back told you that he ex­pected to have 14 catches in a game, he’ll be ly­ing to you,” Barkley said. “So ob­vi­ously I did not ex­pect that, but ... (the) Cow­boys did a great job de­fen­sively tak­ing away the deep threats, and as a quar­ter­back you got to go through your pro­gres­sions, and some­times you go through your pro­gres­sions and there’s a check­down to your run­ning back. It just hap­pened to be more times this game.”

Hous­ton de­fen­sive end Jade­veon Clowney praised the young run­ning back.

“He catches all the balls for them,” Clowney said. “He does every­thing for them. He’s a very ver­sa­tile back. He can catch it, run it. There’s noth­ing the guy can’t do. It’s go­ing to take a whole team ef­fort to get him down on the ground.”

Search­ing for a sack: Watt had a solid per­for­mance last week in his sec­ond game since sit­ting out the fi­nal 11 last year af­ter break­ing his leg. Watt recorded two tack­les for losses and forced a fum­ble. But the player who has twice led the NFL in sacks in his ca­reer still hasn’t taken down the quar­ter­back. It’s been more than two years since Watt recorded a sack af­ter he also missed 13 games in 2016 be­cause of a back prob­lem. His last sack came Sept. 18, 2016, when he had 1½ against Kansas City.

He joked about need­ing to up his game since nose tackle D.J. Reader al­ready has two this sea­son.

“He leads the team in sacks from the nose guard po­si­tion, so I need to start do­ing my job a lit­tle bet­ter,” Watt said.

RON­ALD MARTINEZ / GETTY IMAGES

The Tex­ans will have to worry about Gi­ants re­ceiver Odell Beck­ham Jr. get­ting loose in the sec­ondary to­day.

GETTY IMAGES

Tex­ans re­ceiver De­An­dre Hop­kins has 188 re­ceiv­ing yards through two games. Gi­ants coach Pat Shur­mur said he shares some traits with Odell Beck­ham Jr.

JIM COWSERT / FORT WORTH STAR-TELE­GRAM

Gi­ants re­ceiver Odell Beck­ham Jr. stiff-arms Cow­boys cor­ner­back An­thony Brown dur­ing Sun­day’s loss.

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