The haste with which the Texans responded to the season-ending injury of receiver Will Fuller not only resonated within their Houston locker room, it reverberated throughout the league.
Instead of hoping that internal options would suffice with just one game remaining before their bye, the Texans on Tuesday traded for Broncos veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas to fill the void left by Fuller (32 receptions, 503 yards, four touchdowns) sustaining a right ACL tear last Thursday against the Miami Dolphins. Fuller had five catches for 124 yards and a score in that 42-23 win, the Texans’ fifth consecutive victory. Thomas, even with declining production, should offset some of what the Texans lost via his durability and experience as a nine-year vet.
“I like his size, I like his route tree,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said of Thomas. “I think he can do a lot of different things. I like his intelligence, his experience. I don’t think there’s any substitute for experience. Obviously, he’s got good hands. There’s a lot of things to like about Demaryius Thomas.
“Out at the walkthrough (on Wednesday), we’re talking about a route and he’s like, ‘OK, so that’s like this,’ and this route that he used to run, maybe they call it a little bit differe nt. But, yes, like a rookie would never be able to say that. The experience that he has in different offenses definitely is a help.”
Thomas will make his Texans (5-3) debut on Sunday, oddly enough, against the Broncos (3-5) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Thomas’ former franchise will honor him prior to the game in recognition of the 665 catches, 9,055 yards, and 60 touchdowns he amassed over 125 games.
“Very strange,” Thomas said. “It was strange to get traded first off, and then come here and get ready to play in the city that you’ve been playing for the last eight and a half years is very strange.”
The timing of the trade relative to the teams involved raised concerns over competitive advantages.
“I think game plan-wise, it’s probably irrelevant because he wasn’t here for the game plan meeting,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “Every game plan each week changes. So, he flew out (Tuesday) night. Our first game plan meeting is Wednesday, but I think for DT going against our corners, that’s going to be somewhat of an advantage. He’s going to know the guys’ weak points and vice-versa. Our corners have played against DT for a couple of years, so they should know his weak points. I think that part is relevant. I think the game planning stuff is irrelevant.”
—Field Level Media