Sean Pendergast

Tank Dell's Return Tops Stories From Houston Texans OTA's

Texans WR Tank Dell was back on the practice field just three weeks after suffering a gunshot wound.
Texans WR Tank Dell was back on the practice field just three weeks after suffering a gunshot wound. Photo by Eric Sauseda
We are in the portion of the NFL offseason where the first baby steps are taken, that May and June portion of the calendar where rookies and veterans begin commingling in drills for the first time. We get to see body types on certain guys who went into the offseason with the need for clear shaping improvement. Above all else, we get the reminder that C.J. Stroud is our quarterback, and big things are on the horizon.

Indeed, Organized Team Activities, affectionately known as OTA's, are upon us, this week and next week. These are voluntary workouts with no pads. Helmets, jerseys, and shorts are the ensemble of choice. There's not a ton to pull from these workouts when it comes to guys who play in the trenches. The amount of contact is very limited.

However, we do have some big takeaways from the second session of OTA's this week, and the first one that we in the media could lay eyes upon. Here are four big observations from a steamy Tuesday morning:

Tank Dell is back!
This, to me, was THE biggest story of the OTA session. Tank Dell was practicing, and looked like the Tank Dell that took the league by storm in his rookie season last year, until his season ended with a broken leg against Denver in Week 13. Dell looked crisp running routes, and his hands looked on point. Basically, this mirrored the workout videos Dell had been posting in recent days. The only time Dell was held out was in 11-on-11 drills, but he was active and scintillating in 7-on-7 drills. This is great news!

Kenyon Green looks to be in phenomenal shape
To say Green's first two seasons in the NFL have been a bit star crossed would be a massive understatement. In his rookie season in 2022, the left guard out of Texas A&M was banged up, and when he was on the field, he performed poorly. In 2023, he never made it to the field in the regular season, as he went on injured reserve during training camp and missed the whole season. Even when healthy, Green's physique was a bit of a concern, as he was a little chunky. Fast forward to Tuesday, and Green looks to be in phenomenal shape:
I had written Green off. If he turns into a player this season, this is a massive development on the offensive line for the Texans.

Dameon Pierce is going to be counted upon
While most holdover Texans from the Lovie Smith Era actually improved as players in 2023, Pierce was the rare exception. The Texans' best offensive player in 2022, Pierce never got out of first gear in Bobby Slowik's offense, and eventually, all of the carries went to Devin Singletary by playoff time. In fact, Pierce didn't play any offensive snaps in the season ending loss to the Ravens. However, from the formations and combinations we saw on offense on Tuesday, Pierce is still viewed as very much a part of this offense. The Texans are counting on him to grasp Slowik's offense in Year 2 of Ryans and Slowik, and cement his role as Joe MIxon's backup at running back.

Taking attendance — who was NOT there?
Keep in mind, these OTA sessions are indeed voluntary, and if you're a longtime Texans fan, who feels like a guillotine might come down across the neck of someone who misses these sessions, know that DeMeco Ryans is not nearly the stickler for accomplished veterans attending these as some Texan coaches of previous generations (cough, O'Brien, cough). That said, the following players were absent from Tuesday's practice:

WR Stefon Diggs
LT Laremy Tunsil
RT Tytus Howard
RG Shaq Mason
DE Danielle Hunter
DE Denico Autry

So we are well over 90 percent attendance, which is damn good. The Texans practice again on Thursday, and then will conduct three more OTA sessions next week, with the media allowed to attend on Thursday, May 30.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast