In a surprising move last week, the Houston Texans released Tyler Ervin and added DeAndre Carter as a return specialist.
The Houston Texans drafted running back Tyler Ervin from San Jose State University in the 2016 NFL Draft to be the punt and kick returner for the foreseeable future. Ervin, who definitely has had hiccups in his early years with the Texans, showed some promise this season. It was clear that Ervin was blossoming under new special teams coach, Brad Seely.
This season, with the Texans, Ervin averaged 25.3 yards per game, a career-high, and returned punts for 8.3 yards. Ervin, aside from returning, was also used in offensive formations as a receiver out of the backfield, but he would also be utilized as the backup slot receiver. However, despite Ervin’s early season success, he was waived and replaced with DeAndre Carter.
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After going undrafted from Sacramento State University in 2015, Carter spent time with the Ravens, Eagles, Raiders, Patriots, and the 49ers, before joining the Texans. Carter, prior to signing with the Texans, started in one game for the Eagles and played in 7. He has 103 punt return yards in 10 returns and 204 kick return yards in 10 returns. Although Carter’s statistics are similar to Ervin’s return statistics, Carter is unique in his flexibility as a wide receiver.
With Will Fuller being placed on IR with a season-ending injury and Keke Coutee dealing with a lingering hamstring injury, the Texans are particularly thin at the wide receiver position. Thus, Texans general manager, Brian Gaine, and the Texans coaching staff thought it was perfect for Carter to sign with the Texans. Not only does he provide help at the returning, but also depth at wide receiver.
In his first game as a Texan, Carter played decently, he returned his sole kick return for 18 yards and his sole punt return for 16 yards. The punt that Carter returned set up a Houston touchdown in the first quarter. In addition, to his statistics, Carter showcased his unique intelligence as a returner, especially as a punt returner. Carter knew when to call for a fair catch or not. Often times, when Ervin was the punt returner, he would not call a fair catch, and allow for the ball to bounce around at the Houston 1 or 2-yard line, giving the offense a tough time to score.
However, Carter would intelligently call for a fair catch, even if there was a chance for the ball to roll in the end zone. This is because Carter wanted to avoid the chance for the offense to be backed up at the one or two-yard line. Although signed as depth for the Texans at the receiver position, Carter was used primarily on special teams.