Confirmation of a torn ACL for wide receiver Will Fuller has come, and his loss will be felt by the Houston Texans.
The Houston Texans, with Deshaun Watson looking healthy, scored 43 points and put up 427 yards of offense against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. Watson had more passing touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four), with wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins (six catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns and Will Fuller (five catches for 124 yards with a 73-yard touchdown) on center stage.
But Fuller went down after just missing another touchdown in the fourth quarter, and it was feared (since confirmed) he suffered a torn right ACL. That of course means he’s done for the season, and the Texans will have a void to fill.
Fuller missed time in each of his first two seasons, and a game earlier this year too, so the Texans have operated without him a fair amount. By the time this season is out, he’ll have missed 17 of 48 possible regular season games in his career.
When available Fuller has been a worthy No. 2 wide receiver opposite DeAndre Hopkins, and now the Texans will be hoping Keke Coutee can put a lingering hamstring issue behind him and return in Week 9. But Coutee is mostly a slot guy, and barring a trade Sammie Coates and Vyncint Smith are now in line for more snaps.
If that’s not enough to show Fuller’s importance to Houston’s passing game, there is a surface stat and some deeper data to show it.
Simply put, Fuller takes the top off a defense and Watson’s numbers suffer greatly without him. Watson’s torn ACL limited the time the two spent together last year, but Fuller’s impact has been dramatic and the two clearly have some rapport.
The Texans are riding high on a five-game winning streak, and they can probably survive without Fuller in a broad sense. But there will be something missing from their offense, as opposing defenses won’t have as much fear of being burned downfield and can roll coverage toward Hopkins with less consequence.