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2020 could be a breakout year for Keke Coutee, here's why

Keke Coutee
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Keke Coutee's pro-career started with an extraordinary performance for the Houston Texans. In a Week 4 victory over the Colts, the then-rookie receiver set a new league record for the most receptions in a debut with 11 catches for 109 yards. Nearly two years later, Coutee has not come close to matching the on-field production from his first professional game.

A portion of Coutee's lack of productivity stems from operating in a small role within the Texans' crowed receiving core, but injuries may have been the most significant factor. Over the past two seasons, several injuries have limited Coutee to 15 games since his debut inside Lucas Oil Stadium in 2018.

"Keke had to deal with injuries, but when he plays — he has been very productive," Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien said on Tuesday. "He is a guy who has dealt with some hamstring and some ankle [injuries]. I think the big thing for Keke is health."

The 23-year-old prodigy from Texas Tech has an opportunity to increase his role with the Texans this upcoming season. Houston's receiving group could have a plethora of obstacles due to DeAndre Hopkins' departure, and Coutee could help fill in the void — especially as a slot receiver.

Impressed by his development, O'Brien says Coutee has looked great in training camp working with the receiving and special team corps. And with additional assistance coming from Randall Cobb during practice, year three has the potential to be a breakout season for Coutee — if health stays on his side.

"He's a very confident and good player, but the big thing is health — which is the case for a lot of guys," O'Brien said. "Some of their journeys to a consistent career takes a little bit longer than other guys, and some of it is luck. But I think he is on the right track."

In nine games with the Texans last season, Coutee recorded 22 catches for 254 yards, averaging 11.5 yards per catch in 2019.

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Their biggest needs appear to be on defense. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With the NFL Draft just two weeks away, Mike Florio and Chris Simms examine the Texans roster and predict which spots the team will look to improve.

Simms believes that Houston needs to upgrade at corner and defensive tackle, with Desmond King and Denico Autry getting a little long in the tooth. Let's not forget DT Maliek Collins was traded away to the 49ers, and free agent DT Foley Fatukasi only signed a one-year deal with the Texans.

Not to mention, the two cornerbacks the Texans signed in free agency (Jeff Okudah, CJ Henderson) haven't been very productive over the first several years of their careers. Both players were first-round picks in the draft that never lived up to expectations.

Check out the video above for the full breakdown.

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