Return of WR Will Fuller gives Houston needed downfield threat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Early in the fourth quarter of the Houston Texans' 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, wide receiver Will Fuller showed just what the offense was missing without him last week.

On second down with the Texans trailing by four, Fuller beat Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler off the line and ran 39 yards into the end zone to catch an excellent pass from quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The wide receiver, who missed Week 1 after injuring his hamstring during training camp, said he just did what he does best.

"I just ran fast," Fuller said.

Against the Patriots in Week 1, the Texans were unable to spread the field for Watson, forcing him to throw short and medium routes. In that loss, the home run wasn't there.

The Texans got that downfield threat back on Sunday, as Fuller led the team with eight catches for 113 yards. Fuller's touchdown gave the Texans the lead for the first time in the game and was the Texans' longest play of the season.

Speed is exactly what the Texans were missing against New England. On Sunday, Fuller's presence also allowed the Texans to spread the field and take attention away from fellow receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins had six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown, including receptions of 28 and 31 yards.

Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said after the game that Fuller "did a nice job" and that it was nice to have the third-year receiver back on the field.

Fuller has had a lot of success with Watson throwing him the ball. His 113 receiving yards were the most he'd had since Week 8 of the 2017 season against the Seahawks, which was Watson's last game before he tore his ACL in an early November practice. That game was also the last time the Texans had two receivers -- also Hopkins and Fuller -- record more than 100 receiving yards in the same game.

"[Fuller] helps us out a lot," Hopkins said. "He made some plays downfield [and] gave us some confidence."

Fuller has now caught 21 passes from Watson the past two seasons, and eight have gone for a touchdown, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"We just try to be on the same page," Watson said. "Play fast, play at full speed [and] make sure we're doing the plays that we worked on all week and what [O'Brien] is calling. [We] just try and be on the same page and find an opening.

"I just try to connect and that's what we've been doing, but we have to improve."