Texans WR Tank Dell progressing well following season-ending injury

As the Houston Texans prepare to run it back as AFC South champions, one key element is working his way back from a season-ending injury.

Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud told reporters Monday during his media session that fellow second-year star Tank looks “great” in his recovery, and should be cleared for the start of training camp.

Dell, Houston’s third-round pick and No. 2 receiver, suffered a fractured leg in early December against the Denver Broncos

“He’s gotten a lot better,” said Stroud. “Mentally, I think for both of us, really all of the rookies coming into Year 2, everything is starting to slow down, and the wheels aren’t turning so much up in your head. You’re starting to play ball.”

In 11 games, Dell caught 47 passes for 709 yards and seven touchdowns. He set the franchise rookie record for touchdown catches and yards in a single game with a 145-yard performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3. 

He later broke his record with a 149-yard outing against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11. 

Dell, 24, was playing his best ball leading up to the injury. Over his final four full games, the former Houston Cougar totaled 25 receptions for 369 yards and five touchdowns. He was on pace to catch Andre Johnson’s rookie record receiving yardage (976) entering December. 

Per projections, Dell was expected to finish with over 1,200 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, which would have been second-most among rookies behind Los Angeles RamsPuka Nacua.

Initially believed to be a season-ending injury, there were rumors Dell could rejoin the team deeper in the postseason. The possibility never came to fruition following a loss in the divisional round to the Baltimore Ravens.

Instead, the Texans let their rookie heal and prepare for the next season. 

“Tank is back and he’s starting to get in with our guys here with the offseason programs,” said coach DeMeco Ryans. “So, I’m excited to have Tank back. That was a devastating loss for us last year, losing him. He’s such a dynamic player for us, such an inspiration for myself, a lot of our team.

Dell’s been working with NFL wide receiver and tight end specialist trainer Delfonte Diamond, who posted multiple videos documenting workouts throughout the offseason.

Diamond stated Dell will be ready when the Texans start offseason training activities on May 20. 

A healthy Dell returns to a new-look Texans offense that includes the recently acquired Stefon Diggs and breakout receiver Nico Collins. Combined, the trio might be the league’s top passing unit a year removed from finishing top 10. 

Diggs caught 100-plus passes during his four seasons with the Buffalo Bills.  Collins finished eighth overall in receiving yards and became the third play in franchise history to total over 1,200 yards in a single season. 

Dell and Stroud, along with Diggs and third-year receiver John Metchie, recently had organized a throwing session out in Los Angeles earlier this month.

“Being able to throw with him in L.A. was really big and [John] Metchie looks amazing as well – some of the other guys that came out as well,” Stroud said. “It’s been amazing to get some work in.”

The Texans may open things up in the air with the new trio. They ran three wide receiver sets on first down 39% of the time, which is the eighth fewest in the league, according to NFLEO

Dell and Diggs played around 70% of their snaps as outside receivers, with the other 30% coming in the slot. With either receiver capable of playing both roles, offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik’s playbook opens up in year two. 

“I think we have a lot of potential,” Stroud said. “A ton of guys who have played a lot of meaningful ball. A lot of guys who can do different things with the ball, which is amazing.”

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire