2016 Houston Texans first-round pick Will Fuller returned to practice for the first time since breaking his collarbone on August 2. Fuller had been attending offensive meetings and practices and was finally cleared to return to the field on Monday as the Texans prepare for a Week 3 trip to New England to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots.
It is thought that Fuller has a good shot at starting this week and that his impending return was precipitated by the surprising release of Jaelen Strong.
On Tuesday, the Houston Texans published their ‘unofficial depth chart’ that listed Fuller as a starter opposite of DeAndre Hopkins.
If he’s able to take a full workload throughout the team’s Week 3 preparation, Fuller will return to the lineup at an ideal time, as the injury-ravaged Texans offense could desperately use Fuller’s skills and speed to help take some pressure off of DeAndre Hopkins, who leads the NFL with a whopping 29 targets in two games.
Hopkins has also played all 145 snaps for the Texans, who have been forced to funnel their entire passing game through their Pro Bowl wideout. Braxton Miller, with two receptions on four targets, is the only other Texans wide receiver to even get a single look from Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson.
The Texans offense is still without WR Bruce Ellington, TE Ryan Griffin, and TE Stephen Anderson. All three players have yet to be cleared from concussions suffered in Houston’s season opener.
Will Fuller’s return to the lineup would go a long way towards getting rookie signal-caller Deshaun Watson some much-needed reinforcements. Watson has displayed a strong throwing arm that could mesh well with Fuller’s elite speed.
The timing also helps with Houston looking for any advantage they can get to end a six-game losing streak to the Patriots that’s seen New England trounce the Texans by an average score of 34-13.
Regardless of Fuller’s availability, the Texans will once again be big underdogs in New England, where the Patriots opened as 13-point favorites.
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