Texans and WR Anthony Miller missed an opportunity together

By Coty Davis

HOUSTON — When the Houston Texans traded for Anthony Miller two days before the start of training camp in July, it appeared that it was the perfect marriage.

Miller was in need of a change of scenery as he prepared to enter the final year of his rookie contract following three subpar seasons with the Chicago Bears.

Led by first-year general manager Nick Caserio, Miller was the prime example of a player the Texans sought after during the offseason — find a group of talented individuals cast off around the league and allow them to compete for a roster spot during training camp.

By the time the Texans announced their 53-man roster, it seemed that Miller had found a home in Houston. He was one of five receivers who made the roster during cutdown day despite missing a significant amount of time due to a preseason shoulder injury.

But a near month and a half later, Miller and the Texans are no more. Wednesday morning, Houston released Miller after just two games played. He recorded 23 yards on five catches and the Texans’ lone touchdown over the last two games.

The release of Miller caught the general public off guard, and now it’s hard what to make of the skill position ahead of the Texans’ Week 5 match against the 1-3 New England Patriots.

“That’s exactly what it is, a fresh start,” Miller said when speaking about the fresh start he had with the Texans during training camp in August. “It’s a new opportunity for me to show what I can do, and the coaches here believe in what I can do 100 percent. That’s all I want is an opportunity, and that’s what they’re giving me.”

Even before the jettison of Miller, the wide receiver core had been one of the most disenchanted position groups through the first four games of the season.

The on-field production coming from Chris Conley and Andre Roberts has been in agony. Conley has not been able to create separation between himself and his defenders, which has limited him to three catches on the year. And Roberts has never been reliable in the passing game with only one catch so far this season.

Injuries have also hampered the production of the Texans’ wideouts. After an encouraging start to his career, rookie wide receiver Nico Collins’ has been shelf due to his own shoulder injury. And according to first-year head coach David Culley, there is no timetable on when Collins will return.

Brandin Cooks is the only receiver on Houston’s roster who has recorded over 100 yards — catching 28 balls for 369 total yards. The remaining four players have accounted for a combined 157 yards in receiving.

 

Entering Sunday’s game, the Texans’ inefficient offense will likely continue with a weakened wide receiving core highlighted by a rookie quarterback in Davis Mills — who just registered the worst start at his position in franchise history. But Culley does not consider talent as their primary issue at the position.

“We haven’t executed very well up to this point,” Culley said. “We haven’t played very well in our pass game, which has a lot to do with our running game. But no, it’s not a lack of talent. It’s just a lack of us playing better.”

The Texans are expecting a minor boost to the position group with the return of Danny Amendola, in which his return played a factor in Miller’s release.

Amendola has been the second most productive receiver for the Texans this season. He has caught all six of his targets for 43 yards. But at 35 years old and coming off a hamstring injury, it’s unsure how productive Amendola will be in his return against the Patriots.

“We got a seasoned vet, somebody who’s produced at a high level, who’s been in the offense for quite a while,” Texans’ offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said. “It felt like we’ve got a player that plays identical positions, and we felt better with Danny at that point in time.”

Miller’s short stint with the Texans was a missed opportunity for both parties. Houston missed out on a chance to obtain a young talent who could have been vital to the team’s rebuild, while Miller’s release could cause the wideout the first major payday of his career.

But if he is able to find his way to a new team and stay productive, the future of Miller’s career is seems more optimistic than that of the Texans.


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