Young Standouts Paying Big Dividends for Houston Texans in 2013-14

Ryan CookContributor INovember 10, 2013

Oct 13, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) walks off the field after the game against the St. Louis Rams at Reliant Stadium. The Rams won 38-13. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

So the Houston Texans are 2-7. Make of that what you will, and blame the whole thing on the coaches, but this team still has some pretty impressive talent going around if you look hard enough. 

Sure, the roster can't come together as one and put forward four quarters of consistent football. And after a couple of quarterback changes, the season is now lost after another close call on the road this past weekend against the Arizona Cardinals

But after such an impressive draft, and a rather solid offseason of training, the Texans do have a lot to be positive about if we're ready to look toward the final six weeks of the regular season and well into the future. 

Out of everyone who has either underperformed or had their season cut short to injury, the youth on this team has been brilliant, and in particular three young guys have stood out and earned themselves a place thanks to this disaster of a season. 

If we're to look toward next season for the Texans, the year could be a bit brighter. 


D.J. Swearinger

From day one D.J. Swearinger was always going to have a place on this team after the Texans drafted him in the second round. He drew a tough assignment earlier in the season on Antonio Gates, struggled a little, but has since learned a lot about what it takes to cover some of the best in the NFL

For the time being, Johnathan Joseph will always be placed on the opposing team's top wide receiver threat since he's the best defender the Texans have. Swearinger, though, is the next best thing, and his work on Sunday against the Cardinals showed that. 

Despite recording his first career interception in spectacular fashion one-on-one against Rob Housler, Swearinger has slid into Wade Phillips' heavy man coverage scheme nicely and showed the athleticism that the Texans expected from him. 

With 24 tackles on the year, replacing the injured Danieal Manning hasn't been easy, but Swearinger's speed and ability to jump high and get a hand to the ball shows. 

Swearinger played a part in limiting Jamaal Charles to 86 yards a few weeks ago against Kansas City. With Manning out for the year, Swearinger faces a similar situation to Case Keenum—it's time to prove what he really has.


Nov 10, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Texans strong safety D.J. Swearinger (36) celebrates his interception with  cornerback Johnathan Joseph (24) during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ke
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

DeAndre Hopkins

There's been the odd quiet week for DeAndre Hopkins here and there. On Sunday in Arizona, he led the Texans receiving chart with 69 yards and is probably a solid candidate for Rookie of the Year. 

Hopkins so far has done everything well. He was even in the right place at the right time on a pass that should have been a walk-in interception against the Cardinals and continues to pop up on short slant routes over the middle when Keenum steps up in the pocket. 

Mainly, though, Hopkins has done his job of drawing attention. Matt Schaub struggled to get the ball to Andre Johnson, but so far Keenum has found five touchdown passes out of their star wide receiver, and credit is due to the attention Hopkins is drawing out of defenders.


Shiloh Keo

The time came this week for Ed Reed to hit the bench. A bunch of nothing performances earned the veteran a sit down, and replacing him was third-year safety Shiloh Keo, who has shown tremendous coverage skills in snaps this season. 

Keo's biggest play came on Sunday when he kept Larry Fitzgerald from converting a big third-down opportunity that otherwise could have iced the game for the Cardinals. Keo's stocky frame makes him a big-time tackling threat, and even though he has just the one interception on the year, he's become a reliable fill-in man with Reed's future in doubt.

Reed wants what's best for the team, and right now that's Keo's skills in the secondary with a game against Oakland fast approaching.