Texans WR Tank Dell talks special season, facing adversity and what lies ahead

As the Houston Texans players cleaned out their lockers on Monday, there was an upbeat spirit throughout as players dipped in and out of the locker room going through their end-of-season checklist. Laughter and handshakes could be heard, and the customary “See you when workouts begin” was usually how the conversations ended.

Media members did their best to talk to whoever they could get a camera in front of one last time. Still, there was one player whose locker was constantly occupied by a couple of individuals who wanted to be sure that they had the perfect spot when he walked in, and as soon as he did, his infectious energy filled the room.

“What’s up everybody,” said Houston Texans rookie wide receiver Tank Dell, as he positioned himself to answer questions.

It was the first time since he suffered a broken fibula in the Texans’ Week 13 matchup against the Denver Broncos that the media was allowed to talk to him. As usual, Dell answered every question with the energetic nature that he has displayed since Houston drafted him in the third round of the 2023 NFL draft.

“It has been great just seeing the guys (teammates) accomplish so much this year,” Dell said about the Texans season. “So many people sold us short this year, and for them to go to the second round…we wanted more, but that is just a stepping stone to start where we want to be in the future. I was just rooting for them guys the whole time. Just trying to support the best way I can and support them guys.”

Dell, a superstar wideout from the University of Houston, made sure his energy could be felt around the facility and on the sidelines as soon as the team doctors medically cleared him.

During the AFC wild card game against the Cleveland Browns at NRG Stadium, Dell greeted his best friend and fellow rookie teammate, quarterback C.J. Stroud, on the sidelines after a miscue between Stroud and wide receiver Nico Collins that would have resulted in a touchdown as Collins was at least four steps ahead of the nearest defender. Stroud was visibly upset that he could not connect with Collins, but Dell was there to reassure him of who he was.

“Everybody knows that is my real deal brother off the field,” Dell told Texans Wire when reminded of that occurrence. “Even though I did not have to go up to C.J. after that play and tell him anything because he is poised. That play, he will forget about it and go in and win the game. I know the energy that I bring to my teammates and C.J. I was just telling him, ‘Man, you are the best ever, and that ain’t nothing. Watch how you are going to win the game.’”

Stroud rebounded from the miscommunication with Collins to help lead his team to a 45-14 victory over the Browns and helped the Texans advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.

“Tank [Dell] is definitely somebody who we love to have around,” Stroud said during his mid-week press conference. “He’s definitely the most outgoing person on this team, for sure. Just how he acts, his vibe, his positivity rubs off on everybody, so I love having Tank around. I’m constantly around him a lot still, so it’s really just a blessing to have a guy like still be joyful in a moment where he’s going through a lot.”

The two rookies developed chemistry early in their rookie season and were well on their way to becoming a dangerous combination and headache for defensive coordinators. Dell recorded his first 100-yard-plus game in a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars when he and Stroud connected for 145 yards and a touchdown. They duplicated that performance in a victory over the Arizona Cardinals when Dell finished the game with 149 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Throughout some of his roughest days, both mentally and physically, Dell has leaned on his faith to get him through the most brutal battle he has had to endure playing the game he loves so much. He is eager to get back on the field and improve upon his 709 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in ten games played during his rookie season.

“I just felt like that was a test run for me,” Dell told reporters. “I had a lot more to display, but you know God puts you through some things for a reason. I just keep my head up because I know the years to come are going to be special here.”

Texans first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans rookie class has been exceptional this season, and that is a testament to not only Ryans and his staff but the character of the young men he drafted to be a building block for the organization. They are very talented and leaned on each other heavily for advice and support to get through the most extended season they have ever been a part of during their playing days.

Those guys, the hometown love from fans, and all the University of Houston football team supporters helped Dell keep his energetic vibe throughout his recovery.

“Before we ever stepped on the field to be Houston Texans, we were just talking about what we wanted to come true and bring to fruition and what we wanted to achieve in a short time in our first year,” Dell said exclusively to Texans Wire about the 2023 rookie class. “Like I was telling you (during the 2023 NFL Draft Combine) how I wanted to be here in H-Town [Houston] because it was like home for me.”

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire