Keke Coutee is one of the latest receivers drafted by the Houston Texans that has struggled to find a role in the offense.
The Houston Texans decided to place Keke Coutee as one of the seven players inactive against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12 as a healthy scratch for the first time in his two years in the NFL. Drafted in the fourth round from Texas Tech, Coutee has fallen out of favor after showing promise in his rookie year despite the hamstring injuries that limited him to six games.
Coutee was viewed as one of the young players on the rise for the Texans but started off to a rough start with an ankle injury in the first preseason game that sidelined him for the remainder of the preseason. Injuries had derailed him from meeting the expectations the Texans had for him when he was drafted, and the current front office doesn’t have the same ties to him with Brian Gaine, no longer the general manager in charge.
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However, Coutee’s initial struggles aren’t unprecedented as there is a history of players at his position that has failed to play through their rookie contract in Bill O’Brien’s era as the head coach.
Drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Jaelen Strong struggled to break the rotation in his first two seasons with the Texans and was waived towards the beginning of the 2017 season after serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
Selected in the fifth round of the same draft, Keith Mumphery struggled to carve out a role on offense and special teams and was released at the same time that a previous sexual misconduct case resurfaced that he was involved in Michigan State.
Mumphery has since been cleared of any wrongdoing, but his fit on the field was already in question with the Texans selecting Braxton Miller in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Miller worked on making the transition to a wide receiver after playing at quarterback for the majority of his time in Ohio State, but he failed to play a role in Texans’ offense. Miller was waived after two seasons with the Texans as he dealt with injuries and struggled to find playing time.
Coutee can easily be another one of these young receivers the Texans selected in the draft with the hopes of having them develop. Injuries have limited his time to practice in his first two seasons, and it has shown as he’s made mistakes that have cut his playing time.
Texans tried playing Coutee on special teams to return kick and punts in the preseason, but he wasn’t able to take the job from DeAndre Carter. Coutee has an upward climb back to playing time with DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Kenny Stills being better options.
Coutee had an opportunity to play with Fuller sidelined with a hamstring injury for three games, but he was benched in favor of Carter for the first two games and had three receptions for 25 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.
The book is still open on Coutee’s development in Houston, but being a healthy scratch doesn’t bode well for his future in Houston.