The Texans’ receiving core just got a little thinner.
Second-year receiver Will Fuller V broke his collarbone in practice on Wednesday, sidelining the receiver for 2-3 months. The former first-round pick tried to catch a pass and landed awkwardly on his side.
“Any time you lose a player the caliber of Will, it’s something the next guy’s got to step up,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “That’s the NFL. I mean, that’s training camp. Injuries happen, next guy, next man up. He will be back. It’s a not a season-ending injury.”
Fuller was the second leading receiver on the team last season, catching 47 passes for 635 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He had back-to-back 100-yard games in the first two weeks of his rookie season.
Jaelen Strong, Braxton Miller, and Wendall Williams, who combined for 33 receptions, 305 yards, and one touchdown last season, will be the receivers expected to move up the depth chart to fill the void left by Fuller.
Before his injury, O’Brien said he saw a dramatic jump in ability and confidence from Fuller. He also picked out Miller, who converted to receiver from quarterback after starting under center for Ohio State from 2011-2013.
“I want everybody to step up,” O’Brien said. “I want everybody to come out here and play, play well, do as good a job as they can do and really just play to the best of their ability. Going back to injuries, injuries happen. It’s football. It’s a tough deal but the next guy’s got to step up.”
Miller said the first time he saw the Texans’ playbook, he was overwhelmed and lined up trying to find his assignment as opposed to looking at the best way to beat the defense. This year, he’s able to focus on the technique and coverages.
Since Fuller’s injury, he said the mood in the receivers’ room has been diligent, adding they have to come together and be on the same page.
After Miller’s junior year at Ohio State, he injured his shoulder in practice and was forced to miss the entire 2014 season. There was a quarterback competition when the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year came back and he ultimately switched to wide receiver.
“I’ve been through the same situation when I was in college,” Miller said. “It’s just one of the things that happens with football. I’m here for him. He texted me this morning, I texted him back. That was my roommate, so I’m there for him.”