Houston Texans: Tight ends preparing towards bigger offensive role
By Jair Lopez
The Houston Texans could have a more significant role on offense in store for the tight end group this upcoming season with DeAndre Hopkins departure.
The Houston Texans offense could resemble the tight end oriented offense the New England Patriots utilized when Bill O’Brien was the offensive coordinator. O’Brien’s affinity for talent at tight end translated to the college level in Penn State, where he recruited talented tight ends that included NFL players, Jesse James, and Mike Gesiki.
Now, as the general manager in Houston, O’Brien has several physical athletes at tight end in Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, and Kahale Warring. Despite the offense no longer boasting an All-Pro receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, Houston has three solid wideouts in Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Randall Cobb.
Fuller and Stills proved to be a solid duo with each of them going for over 500 receiving yards last season, which wasn’t accomplished since C.J. Fiedorowicz went for 559 yards and Fuller accrued 635 receiving yards in 2016.
Although trading Hopkins takes the offense down a notch on paper, there exists a possibility that the offense could have a more balanced distribution if the tight ends are more involved moving forward. Fells and Akins combined for 70 receptions, 759 receiving yards, and nine touchdown receptions in 2019.
Meanwhile, Hopkins, Fuller, and Stills combined for193 receptions, 2,396 receiving yards, and 14 touchdown receptions. Cobb will take some of Hopkins targets as the Texans new slot receiver, but there will still be a lot left for the tight ends to potentially earn heading into this season.
Although Fells and Akins aren’t on the same tier of talent as the Patriots tight end in their prime, they showed promising results of forming a solid two-punch in their first year together. Fresh off a three-year contract extension, Fells has the opportunity to start where he left off after a franchise-record seven touchdown receptions in his first year.
With Hopkins’ departure, the tight end position is arguably the deepest and talented position in the offense. Houston has an intriguing group of tight ends that can step up to the challenge. Warring and Thomas were both slowed down with injuries last season, but they could push for playing time this season.
There are a lot of moving parts that have to come together, but Houston’s offense could still be one of the best in the league with Deshaun Watson at quarterback and a solid supporting cast around him.