Tank Dell catches first regular-season touchdown with Texans: ‘One of our backyard plays’

Texans rookie wide receiver caught seven passes for 72 yards on 10 targets in second NFL game, regular-season home debut at NRG Stadium in loss to Colts

Houston Texans wide receiver Tank Dell (3) runs in for a touchdown in front of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard (53) and safety Julian Blackmo (32) in the second half of an NFL football game in Houston, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (David J. Phillip, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – It was a textbook play by Tank Dell, an unusually advanced rookie wide receiver with his explosiveness and understanding of the game.

The former University of Houston standout caught a sideline pass off from rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, running an out pattern and then stopping so suddenly that Colts cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. was left flailing through the air. Then, Dell sprinted the rest of the way for a 23-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter of a 31-20 loss to the Colts.

Yes, Dell kept the football from his touchdown.

“It’s just one of our backyard plays, an out route,” Dell said. “I caught it and just felt like he overplayed it, so I cut it back and you know the rest.”

Dell caught seven passes for 72 yards on 10 targets in his second NFL game. The third-round draft pick averaged 10.3 yards per reception. He had a touchdown nullified due to a holding penalty on left offensive tackle Josh Jones earlier in the game.

“It’s a blessing, for sure,” Dell said of his performance.

Dell was more prominently involved in offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik’s game plan one week after he caught three passes for 34 yards on four targets in his first NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens No longer behind Noah Brown on the depth chart with the veteran wide receiver placed on injured reserve with a groin injury, Dell had an expanded role Sunday.

And Nico Collins had a career-high 146 receiving yards on seven catches and one touchdown on nine targets while Robert Woods caught six passes for 74 yards.

“It was good,” Dell said. “Coach Slo’s been doing a good job all week in practice trying to find space for not only me, but like Rob and Nico and everybody. He’s just putting us in good positions to what fits us and what we do special. Nico went crazy.”

Stroud completed 30 of 47 passes for 384 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

“He has been been doing it with all the receivers, throwing it on time. scrambling out and giving us a chance,” Dell said. “He’s been doing his thing.”

However, the Texans are now in an 0-2 hole and 0-1 in the AFC South division heading into next week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“We’re going to get it right,” Dell said. “We’re going to keep harping on going out there and working hard every day and get better at practice. Once we put all four quarters together as an offense and as a team, then we’re going to be crazy. We’re going to fight all four quarters, I know that.”

Dell has set high goals for his rookie season.

After being drafted, he revealed that he had written down a list of the eight wide receivers drafted ahead of him . That included first-round draft picks Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Seattle Seahawks), Quentin Johnston (Los Angeles Chargers), Zay Flowers (Baltimore Ravens), Jordan Addison (Minnesota Vikings), second-round picks Jonathan Mingo (Carolina Panthers), Jayden Reed (Green Bay Packers), Rashee Rice (Kansas City Chiefs) and Marvin Mims (Oklahoma).

“I still remember those names, I’ve got them written down,” Dell said. “Nothing personal. I feel like the hardest worker is going to go the farthest. I’m always going to be the hardest worker in the room.”

Metchie catches first NFL pass

Texans wide receiver John Metchie III caught his first NFL regular-season pass Sunday after missing his entire rookie season on the non-football illness list after being diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.

He caught one pass for 17 yards.

“Not to be satisfied with just coming back, but strive to be the best in coming back,” Metchie said. “And that was kind of my mindset that got me through that period of time. Not just wanting to make it out. I wanted to thrive, not just survive.”

A former second-round draft pick and All-Southeastern Conference selection at Alabama, Metchie was in the fight of his life last year, battling acute promyelocytic leukemia. While Metchie wondered if he would play football again while undergoing treatment at MD Anderson, he could see where he wanted to go a few miles away at NRG Stadium.

Metchie experienced the gamut of emotions, including doubt. Ultimately, his faith and determination brought him back to the game and he is working to build his role within the Texans’ offense.

“Patience has definitely been a theme to me, and it’s something I’ve had a lot of practice with in the last year,” Metchie said last week. “Of course, it’s knowing I have to remain consistent and keep showing up and time will come. I just have to be ready.”

Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and click2houston.com

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