HOUSTON (AP) — While most of his new teammates were relaxing on beaches or attending football games at their universities during Houston’s bye week, Demaryius Thomas was at NRG Stadium studying the playbook and watching film.
Thomas, who was acquired from Denver on Oct. 30, didn’t have the luxury of a break. The receiver had too much to catch up on after struggling at times in his Texans debut in a 19-17 win over his former team just five days after the trade.
He had three receptions for 61 yards in that game, but had a false start, lined up in the wrong spot and looked lost on a drive in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t even want to have to deal with that again,” Thomas said. “It was two critical downs where it could have hurt us in the game, but it didn’t. So I stayed here, got situated and I was in the playbook.”
Thomas believes his extra work will make things smoother Sunday when the Texans travel to face the Redskins. The game will also be emotionally easier for Thomas since it isn’t against the team with which he spent his entire career before the trade.
“I feel way better,” he said. “I ain’t playing the Denver Broncos, a team I was playing for for nine years also. So with the weeks in and preparation still going on, I feel a lot better.”
The Broncos honored Thomas, who was their first-round pick in 2010, with a video tribute before the game which featured some of the top touchdown receptions from his time in Denver. He acknowledged that seeing that and then lining up against his former team made the day rather emotional.
“Yeah it was,” he said. “It was tough.”
But he’ll have no such distractions Sunday when the Texans, who lead the AFC South, face another first-place team in the Redskins, who sit atop the AFC East standings.
“Both teams are 6-3, both teams are finding ways to win and that’s the main thing about this league is getting a W at the end of it,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The Texans traded for Thomas after Will Fuller, who ranks second on the team with 503 yards receiving, suffered a season-ending knee injury. Now that Thomas has gotten up to speed with the Texans, coach Bill O’Brien is looking to get him more involved this week.
“We’ve got to be able to use him more, even more than we did,” O’Brien said. “He had three catches. I think they were all basically almost on the first or second drive of the game … I think we’re going to make a lot of strides with him from week to week.”
Thomas said he has spent a lot of time with quarterback Deshaun Watson and receiver DeAndre Hopkins since his arrival in Houston. But he doesn’t ask them a lot of questions. He simply watches them at practice to figure out how he’s supposed to do things.
“I’ve been able to catch on fast since I’ve been in the league, so it’s just stuff that when we’re on the field and we’re going fast, those are things that I really need because I haven’t heard them before,” Thomas said.
Watson said the transition has been made easier since he had a relationship with Thomas before the trade.
“It’s been good,” Watson said. “We’ve known each other before, so as far as hanging out and just talking ball, we’ve done that before. Now, being on the same team and having more time, especially, the past bye week of getting together and getting on the same page, it’s been good.”
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