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Tank Dell returns to Houston Texans with better outlook, bigger goals

Tank Dell had big goals entering Year 2 with the Houston Texans.

Those goals have grown in the recent weeks since his life saw a shake-up.

Dell, the Texans’ breakout receiver of the 2023 season, is thankful to be able to still play football after being shot in the leg during a bar altercation in his home state of Florida following the draft. He considers himself blessed that someone was watching over him that night in Sanford.

“God blessed me to get out of that situation healthy,” Dell said speaking to the local media for the first time since the shooting. “I was only down for like a week, but I was just working out. But after that, I got right back to work, and I’m feeling good.”

Dell, 24, was one of 10 people who suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the shooting. Earlier this week, police released video evidence of Dell getting caught in the middle of the altercation as shots were fired.

A 16-year-old suspect was charged with attempted homicide, firing a weapon in a public place, using a firearm during a felony and illegal possession of a firearm by a minor. All 10 victims survived, suffering only minor wounds.

The moment scared Dell, wondering what would happen to his career, though the moment also affected others waiting to hear an update.

“I don’t want to put myself in that type of position. And especially like my family, like I got a little brother, my mom,” Dell said. “I know how they were feeling at that time. And it’s just a blessing that I’m safe. But it’s a traumatic experience.”

Mentally, Dell feels back on pace. He still goes to church on Tuesdays and prays every morning and every night. He talks to his grandma more often through daily text messages.

And sights are set on a promising future with Houston now viewed as a playoff threat. Dell has big goals this upcoming season, including finding the end zone at least 10 times over 17 games.

“I’m looking forward to stepping in that light and achieving them,” Dell said.

Dell wants to expand his role in the offense, one that features dominant No. 1 target Nico Collins and the newly acquired Stefon Diggs. C.J. Stroud, one of Dell’s best friends, will have his choice of target to fire at on Sundays as Houston looks to clinch its first conference title in franchise history.

While Collins and Diggs may have experience, there’s little reason to imagine Dell taking a step down on offense. As the No. 2 target last season, he proved to be an essential asset, hauling in 47 catches for 709 yards and seven touchdowns.

He was on pace for over 1,200 receiving yards before a broken fibula suffered against Denver sidelined him for the rest of the regular season. Since then, Dell’s received countless support from teammates and members of the organization.

“Everybody’s been showing a lot of love and just letting me know, reassuring me they’re right by my side the whole time every step of the way, so that’s been good,” Dell said.

Since his return, Dell has been working his way up to full speed, though he looks near-perfect during drills. He’s been a full participant since last week’s voluntary OTAs began, winning multiple routes in coverage both during team drills and 7-on-7 routes.

During Tuesday’s open session for media members, Dell broke free for a gain of 25 yards during team drills while matched in man coverage. While the catch was impressive, the throw from Stroud couldn’t have been placed better.

Consider that a tribute to the duo’s success and friendship off the field.

“Just got a lot of love for that guy.,” Stroud said. “I’m very excited for him. He’s been snapping at practice and doing really well, and to knock off the rust that quick shows how much work he’s put in.”

Stroud, who relied on Dell in marquee games during his rookie season, learned that Dell was shot while attending a basketball game in Philadelphia. In a recent podcast, he called the situation  an “eye-opener.”

The duo grew close during the rookie season because of their faith. Stroud thanked God when he found out Dell would be fine following the incident.

“We have those conversations about our faith. This football stuff, it seems like it’s everything, but it’s not,” Stroud said. “We’re people, and we go through a lot off the field people don’t know (about). As his brother, I have to be there for him just like he’s there for me when I go through what I go through. So I’m just proud of him. The word proud isn’t probably even enough to state the feelings that I have.”

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Dell in his return. While the path back to play came with blockage, he’s emerged from the other side with a clearer mind.

His goals are lofty, but achievable. It might take time, but the second-year receiver is ready to take the next step.

He’s also thankful that there’s another step to take in his career.

“I give all the glory to God for sure,” said Dell. “It’s been a blessing, nothing short of a blessing.”

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire