Texans’ Tank Dell Undergoes Season-Ending Ankle Surgery

DECEMBER 4: When speaking to the media on Monday, head coach DeMeco Ryans confirmed (via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2) Dell has undergone season-ending ankle surgery. The procedure puts an end to a highly encouraging rookie campaign and leaves Houston shorthanded on offense for the stretch run. Ryans added he expects Dell to be healthy in time for the offseason program.

DECEMBER 3: The Texans’ offense has been productive during today’s game against the Broncos, but the unit has been dealt a major blow in the process. Wideout Tank Dell was carted off the field early in the contest, and he has since been diagnosed with a fractured fibula, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

As a result of the injury, Rapoport notes an IR stint is headed Dell’s way. Being placed on injured reserve requires at least a four-week absence, but a lengthier one could very well be in store. The diagnosis is the same one Ravens tight end Mark Andrews received recently, and he is believed to be out for the remainder of the season.

Missing Dell for any signficant time would be a crucial blow for Houston’s passing game. The third-round rookie entered Sunday’s game with 47 catches for 709 yards and seven touchdowns. Those figures made him a staple of the Texans’ offense, especially in recent games. Dell has drawn double-digit targets four times this season, including a span of three straight contests in November. His unique skillset will be difficult to replace both on offense and special teams.

The 24-year-old has served as the Texans’ kick and punt returner this season. In the latter capacity in particular, he has made an impact. Dell has totaled 100 yards on 11 punt returns, adding to his 44 yards on a pair of kick returns. Veteran cornerback Desmond King handled kick return duties during today’s win, but Houston’s offense will be without a dynamic element if Dell is indeed forced to miss considerable time.

In his absence, the Texans leaned heavily on Nico Collins in the passing game. The third-year wideout was the team’s leading receiver heading into Week 13, and he posted a 9-191-1 statline on Sunday. Collins – who will be eligible for an extension at the end of the season – will be the focal point of Houston’s passing attack moving forward. The team also has John Metchie and Noah Brown as complementary options at the WR spot.

Further testing will no doubt be done on Dell in the near future, but the fact such a signficant injury has already been reported is obviously concerning. It will be worth watching closely how much time he ends up missing, and how the 7-5 Texans move forward as their playoff push continues.

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