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A New Arian Foster

Arian Foster jumps out at Texans practice, but Andre Johnson wowed by one DeAndre Hopkins trait

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Arian Foster Bengals
Arian Foster is reaching for even greater heights this season. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
DeAndre Hopkins Texans
Rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins' work ethic has impressed Andre Johnson. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
Andre Johnson catch Jags
Andre Johnson knows what it will take for DeAndre Hopkins to make a major rookie impact. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Keshawn Martin stiff arm
Second-year receiver Keshawn Martin made sure he wasn't an afterthought on day one. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Matt Schaub Vikings
Matt Schaub should have more viable targets than ever. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com
Arian Foster Bengals
DeAndre Hopkins Texans
Andre Johnson catch Jags
Keshawn Martin stiff arm
Matt Schaub Vikings
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

DeAndre Hopkins remains the natural curiosity, the player that eyes went to as soon as the Houston Texans took the field for their first day of Organized Team Activities (essentially offseason practices in shorts) Monday. A lot of the Texans' Super hopes rest on Hopkins giving quarterback Matt Schaub another legitimate impact target.

Hopkins did little to disappoint. He broke free to catch a long down-the-middle pass from Schaub late in the 90-minute session and didn't make any noticeable glaring mistakes. Still, the rookie in the No. 10 jersey didn't overwhelmingly stand out with the veterans on the field the way he did in rookie mini camp when no one could approach his talent level.

As the all-pro vet Andre Johnson put it, "You can kind of tell he's thinking a lot."

 "I love the way he catches the ball. And I like his work ethic." 

While Hopkins blended in a little more, Arian Foster kept jumping out. And not just because he wore sleek long white sleeves under his white practice jersey. It's wise not to read too much into the first day of OTAs (that Sept. 9 Monday Night Football opener in San Diego is still an awfully long way away), but it's impossible not to notice Foster's explosive first step.

Particularly when Schaub turned to him in the passing game during 7-on-7 drills.

Foster's already vowed to "bounce back" after a mere 1,651 total yards, 17 touchdown season — the type of season that would be a career year for all but a few other NFL running backs.

"That's why I love Arian," Johnson said. "He's always trying to take it to another level."

He's not the only one doing that on a Texans team disappointed by a second straight second round playoff loss. Reigning NFL Defensive Player of Year J.J. Watt is already vowing to be a better team leader in his third season — while upping his already legendarily high goals.

If Arian Foster can put together a career year — remember this is a 26-year-old who already has a 2,220 total yard season — it's no stretch to envision the Texans having leading candidates for both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.

It may only be day one, but Foster is clearly already in top shape. "He takes care of himself well," Schaub said.

Still on a day when Foster consistently stood out and second-year receiver Keshawn Martin may have made the single most impressive play of all — beating veteran safety Danieal Manning to the corner as he sped up the sideline on one long catch — Andre Johnson still left impressed with Hopkins.

 It may only be day one, but Foster is clearly already in top shape. "He takes care of himself well," Schaub said. 

Not because of any one single play or move. Because of something that may be even more important to his NFL future.

"He doesn't remind me of any other receiver I've played with so much," Johnson told CultureMap in a quick one-on-one side session. "I can't think of any one guy he's like. But I love the way he catches the ball. And I like his work ethic.

"You can tell he's out here to work. That's big."

On this team, with this group of increasingly self-motivated stars, it's also becoming expected. DeAndre Hopkins couldn't fit in any other way. 

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