Hopkins suffered a shoulder sprain — of the AC joint — during the first half and played through the injury in the second. The first-team All Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, who finished the regular season with 115 receptions, ended the game with five receptions for 37 yards and no touchdowns.
The Colts held Hopkins to four receptions for 36 yards on Dec. 9, which means his two lowest single-game yardage totals of the season came against Indianapolis.
Asked following the game if he thought about sitting out in the second half, Hopkins said simply: “No, [only] if I would have a broke leg or something.”
Hopkins characterized the injury as a Grade 3 sprain. When asked if he would need any specific treatment or surgery to repair the injury in the coming weeks, he said “no.”
“It’s football … [it’s] very difficult,” Hopkins said.
Without his primary target at full speed, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson said he tried to find a way to keep Hopkins involved in the offense, as Houston had two rookies playing at the position in Keke Coutee and Vyncint Smith to go with DeAndre Carter, who the Texans claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10. Coutee, who had not played since Nov. 26 against the Tennessee Titans because of a hamstring injury, finished with 11 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
But the Colts, not knowing the extent of Hopkins’ injury during the game, consistently doubled him both before and after the injury, with cornerback Pierre Desir on him much of the time, with some additional help downfield.
“Nothing changed,” Watson said. “… Give him a chance. The Colts did a good job with playing a guy underneath, playing a guy over the top. They kind of cut off certain things you could really do.”
Watson said the Texans eventually tried to use Hopkins on some shorter routes to prevent the Colts from getting the safety down near the line of scrimmage to help on him. Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he tried to move Hopkins around the formation a little more in the second half, even as he attempted to play through the injury.
“They were doubling Hop, and I was trying to move him around and move him into different spots,” O’Brien said. ” … I moved him around.”