HOUSTON (AP) — Entering his sixth season in the NFL, Cecil Shorts has stepped into the role of the savvy veteran among Texans wide receivers.
With a group of young talent around him, including Jaelen Strong, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, Shorts knows his role.
“I think it’s my role to lead by example,” Shorts said. “Speak up when I need to speak up. The guys are doing a great job right now, they’re ahead of the learning curve. They learn the offense pretty well. I’m excited for them.”
In the offseason, Houston went out and got younger and faster at the wide receiver position. Five of the Texans’ wide receivers are going through their first NFL training camp, while both learning a new offense and getting used to a new quarterback.
“It’s building. It’s building every single day,” Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler said about his relationship with the receivers.
“Timing with those skill guys is something that can’t be accomplished overnight. It’s a constant process. It’s something that could take months with certain routes and certain receivers. But every single day we’re getting a little bit better.”
The transition into this new era for the Texans’ offense is apparent.
Houston is one of six teams in the NFL to have just one receiver on the roster with more than five years of experience. However, despite the lack of experience, the age difference isn’t that much.
“I’m having a lot of fun, we are all in the same age category so it’s a lot of fun and we all relate to each other,” Fuller said.
Houston selected Fuller, the speedster from Notre Dame, with the No. 21 pick in the draft. Fuller ran a 4.32 at the combine months earlier.
At training camp, Fuller has caught the attention of coach Bill O’Brien. Houston’s third-year coach said Fuller has been doing well.
In addition to Fuller, the Texans added Miller with the 85th overall pick.
At Ohio State, Miller played just one season at wide receiver, finishing with 24 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns.
Miller said making the transition to the NFL at wide receiver isn’t something that worries him because he picks up things pretty fast and is learning the playbook.
Miller’s playmaking ability, which was on display at Ohio State on multiple occasions, is what he wants to bring.
“When I get the ball in my hands I’m looking for one thing and that’s making big plays getting into the end zone and celebrating with my teammates,” Miller said.
Helping Miller’s transition to the NFL are veterans such as Shorts and DeAndre Hopkins.
“It’s a definite learning curve, just learning from two guys that have been in the league that know how to take care of their body, know how to come out and practice,” Miller said. “That’s what I look forward to every day is learning from those two guys and putting my efforts in and making this whole receiving corps come together.”
O’Brien said they have multiple uses for the group moving forward.
“We’ve got a lot of different skillsets at that position,” he said. “You’ve got guys that can play on all three downs. You’ve got guys that can play on first and second down and also help us on special teams.
“You’ve got guys that can play on third down, play some receiver, return punts. It’s a very diverse group and it’s a very competitive position.”
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