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Texans’ O’Brien growing weary over QB questions

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HOUSTON – Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has already gotten tired of the questions.

How did the quarterbacks do? Are you closer to naming a starter? When are you going to name a starter?

After practice Sunday, O’Brien was asked about fan reaction to Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer. Fans cheer Mallett. They’re indifferent to Hoyer, who’s expected to be named the starter, barring a late push from Mallett.

“I read (and) I understand what is written. Sometimes it (ticks) me off to be honest with you,” O’Brien said. “These are two good quarterbacks that have played in this league. They work very hard. They’re out here busting their ass every day to get better.

“I think the city of Houston should be proud of them. I think the media should understand that these guys can play. They have to do it. Look, if they don’t do it, they don’t do it, but I have a lot of faith in those guys.”

Hoyer has been on and off during camp. Mallett struggled Saturday but was impressive Sunday, while taking first-team reps.

O’Brien could make his decision before the Texans face the Redskins from Aug. 6-8 in Richmond, Va. But it’s more likely the second-year coach will wait to watch his quarterbacks in live action against an opponent before making a final call.

–With the temperature pushing 95 degrees, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins remained after practice to catch passes, helping make up for time he lost in the offseason program while recovering from wrist surgery.

When his work was done and most of his teammates were in the dressing room, Hopkins went to the sideline to accommodate fans who asked him to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Later, Hopkins drank Gatorade under a tent and discussed a number of subjects, including his enhanced role now that Andre Johnson is no longer on the team.

“Me and Arian (Foster) were talking about it being different not having him out here,” Hopkins said about Johnson, who signed with AFC South rival Indianapolis this offseason. “You look around and see all these jerseys, but you don’t see (No. 80).

“It’s kind of hard not to think about him, because this city loves him no matter what. He has the utmost respect from everybody in the locker room.”

Last season, Hopkins began to earn respect around the NFL as an elite receiver, catching 76 passes for 1,210 yards (15.8 average) and six touchdowns.

Part of what made Hopkins’ performance so impressive was playing with four quarterbacks, including three starters.

No matter who wins the starting job this season, Hoyer or Mallett, the coaches are hoping the quarterback brings stability to an offense that will feature Hopkins in the passing game.

“I do have higher expectations,” Hopkins said. “I’m in a role where I should catch more balls. I’ve got to capitalize on those opportunities.”

–This is cornerback Johnathan Joseph’s fifth training camp with the Texans and his 10th overall. He’s starting opposite Kareem Jackson for a fifth consecutive season.

“The more you have familiarity with each other — me and Kareem are seeing through the same set of eyes — the more comfortable you are having that guy on the other side,” Joseph said. “Kareem’s a great leader, and he’s always pushing me each to get better.”

Since the start of last year’s training camp, general manager Rick Smith and his personnel department have done a solid job of adding depth at cornerback, including first-round pick Kevin Johnson.

“They did a great job adding guys, and, obviously, Kevin’s fitting in great,” Joseph said. “What I see in him is an ultimate pro. That speaks volumes within itself because when you have that on your side, you’re eager to learn and getting better and at the same time you can take coaching. The more depth you have the better off you are as a team.”


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