Texans take care with WR Hopkins

Aug 17, 2017 - 4:23 PM HOUSTON -- As star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins continues to watch from the sidelines, the Houston Texans are maintaining a cautious approach with the one-time Pro-Bowl selection as he recovers from a hand injury.

Hopkins hasn't practiced since getting dinged up during the Texans' preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers. It's not regarded as serious, but the Texans don't want to take any chances with arguably their most dangerous offensive weapon as they prepare for the season opener Sept. 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I think he's fine," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "Look, the biggest thing with him is making sure that he feels 100 percent when he practices, making sure that when the season starts he's ready to go.

"He's proven a lot to this organization over the last few years. He's fine. There's nothing really wrong with him. It's just more 'Hey, let's make sure this guy's ready to go on September 10.'"

--Tyler Ervin is capable of performing many tasks on a football field, displaying rare versatility. Ervin is listed on the Texans' roster as a running back, but he's much more than that.

Ervin regularly played wide receiver flexed out as a slot against the Carolina Panthers.

He's one of the Texans' primary kickoff and punt returners. And the former fourth-round draft pick from San Jose State even lined up as a defensive back in scout-team duties as a rookie.

"He's doing a good job," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's a smart guy, very versatile guy - special teams, offense. I think he could even play DB in a pinch. Just one of those guys that you really need to have on a pro football team, and he's had a good camp. Big key with him is we just have to continue to keep him healthy."

As a rookie, Ervin averaged 9.7 yards per punt return and 18.8 yards per kickoff return. He had a long punt return of 57 yards that set up a touchdown during a road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the highlight of a difficult season. He also forced a fumble against the New England Patriots that led to a touchdown during a playoff loss.

Any aspirations to play defensive back?

"That was cool," Ervin said. "I used to play DB in high school. I did that a little bit my freshman year and the scout team last year.

"It was interesting. I got to put more into my craft if I want to be serious about that. Whatever it is, I try to do it to the best of my ability."

Ervin dealt with ball security issues as a rookie. He gets plenty of advice from offensive and special teams assistant Wes Welker, a former Pro-Bowl slot receiver and kick returner.

"Me and Wes, we talk so much," Ervin said. "I'm trying to get every tidbit I can from a guy like that, literally every little facet from him, kick returns, punt returns, wide receiver."

--Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is heading into the final year of a four-year, $4.172 million rookie contract. Due a $1.797 million base salary this year after triggering an escalator clause in his current deal, Fiedorowicz is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

A new contract with the Texans or another franchise likely awaits Fiedorowicz after this season. That's not his current focus, though.

The Texans rewarded tight end Ryan Griffin with a three-year, $9 million contract in March that includes $3.225 million guaranteed.

"If it comes, it comes," Fiedorowicz said. "I'm going to play out this year. Hopefully based on my play, I get something good."

--Between the multitude of vowels in his name and his appearance, Texans tackle Breno Giacomini says he's frequently mistaken for being Italian. That happened a ton when Giacomini was plying his trade for the New York Jets. He's even listed in a Sons of Italy blog on NFL players of Italian descent.

Giacomini, which is pronounced (GEE-ah-co-MEE-knee), is the son of two Brazilian expatriates. His great grandfather was Italian.

"Everybody else comes from Brazil," Giacomini said. "It's alright. I guess with the name and the looks, that's what people think. It's a good thing.

"My parents were born and raised in Brazil. I was definitely raised Brazilian. There's a little Italian in me as well."

Giacomini grew up in the suburbs of Boston in Malden, Mass. He was born in Cambridge and worked at a hot dog and fried dough stand at Fenway Park in high school.

A basketball player who averaged 21 points per game as a prep senior, Giacomini got more interested in football after he met New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe at the hotel where his father worked.

Giacomini enjoyed practicing against his hometown team the past two days.

"Growing up watching the Patriots, it's pretty cool when they come to town," Giacomini said. "It gives you some extra juice to want to beat them. It's definitely fun, but you got to come out and compete."

--The eye-catching quickness, speed and hands of Texans undrafted rookie wide receiver Riley McCarron has earned him respect from the coaching staff and players.

It's also notched a nickname for the honorable-mention All-Big Ten Conference selection from Texans head coach Bill O'Brien: "The Iowa Flash."

A state champion in the 100 meters in high school, McCarron ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and registered a 40½-inch vertical leap at the Iowa Pro Day after not being invited to the NFL Scouting Ccombine.

McCarron caught one pass for 18 yards against the Carolina Panthers.

"He's a good kid," O'Brien said. "He works hard. He's a spitting image of (assistant coach and former NFL wide receiver Wes) Welker, wearing No. 83. He's done a good job. He's a smart kid. He's tough.

"He's played through injury already, had a bad thumb for a while and played through it. I like a lot of what he does."

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