Exactly which position battle for the Houston Texans will be the best to watch and keep track of this training camp and preseason?
The battle of the Houston Texans tight ends will be interesting to keep note of once training camp begins because there is no way the Texans will keep all seven players currently on the roster at the position, leading to a very intense battle which should bring the competitiveness this franchise lacked one season ago.
Currently, the Texans have the following players on their roster listed at tight end: Jordan Akins, Anthony Auclair, Pharaoh Brown, Ryan Izzo, Brevin Jordan, Paul Quessenberry and Kahale Warring.
Akins should have the head start on being the starting tight end when Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars rolls around, but from there the battle among the remaining six players will possibly be the most competitive battle of all positions for the Houston Texans in the weeks of camp leading up to the regular season.
Akins caught 37 passes (49 targets) for 403 yards and one touchdown last season. He played in 13 games in ’20, averaging 10.9 yards per reception, with his most productive game being five receptions for 83 yards against the New England Patriots. That game Akins’ top reception went for 25 yards.
Akins’ lone touchdown of the season came in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, and from that point on he went scoreless for the remainder of the season.
Akins has the best shot to start Week 1, but with this being his fourth season with the franchise, there is still a lot to improve on for the former third-round pick. With possibly a new starting quarterback, that being Tyrod Taylor, that will change things for Akins as he’s grown accustomed to Deshaun Watson being under center for the Texans.
Akins is a talented player, and he will not only be looked at to produce in catching passes, but he does draw coverage off others on the offense, which is something to consider when placing him at the top of the tight end depth chart of the Texans.
Pharaoh Brown played in eight games for the Texans in ’20 where his season included 14 receptions on 16 targets for 163 yards with two touchdowns. Those TDs came against the Tennessee Titans in the season finale and against the Cleveland Browns in mid-November.
Brown had a best catch of 29 yards in ’20 as that was his one reception against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown should stay on the roster in ’21, but with his 11.6 ypc last season, he outperformed the aforementioned Akins in that category, so remember that when training camp comes around.
Paul Quessenberry signed with the Texans this offseason and hasn’t played football in quite some time as he has been serving in the Marine Corps after playing collegiate football at Navy. He last played tight end in high school, so Quessenberry is a wild card of sorts when it comes to the TE battle in training camp.
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Also this offseason, the Texans signed Anthony Auclair as a free agent, a player who was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2017-20. In 40 games with that franchise, he caught just 10 passes for 84 yards (including none last season) and zero touchdowns.
This is a fresh start for Auclair, and probably an uphill climb, as he enters his fifth season with a lot to prove to stay on the roster of the Texans in ’21.
Kahale Warring is one of the more interesting players on this tight end list because after two seasons with the franchise, there is still much to learn about the former third-round pick. Warring has competed against injuries since joining the Texans in ’19, and his career numbers show that.
Warring didn’t play in ’19, and in ’20 he had just three receptions on seven targets for 35 yards. His best catch was a 23-yard gain against the Indianapolis Colts.
Next is Ryan Izzo, who played for the Patriots in ’20. In 12 games, he had 13 receptions (20 targets) for 199 yards and no touchdowns. Izzo also averaged 15.3 yards per reception.
There is also rookie Brevin Jordan, a fifth-round pick (No. 147 overall) from the University of Miami. Jordan will hopefully shake things up within the position battle because this unit needs to be more productive than it has been in recent years on a more consistent basis.
At “The U,” Jordan in three seasons collected 105 receptions for 1,358 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging 12.9 ypc for his career. Jordan in his final season totaled 38 receptions for 576 yards and seven touchdowns.
Though this focused more on the offensive numbers of the Houston Texans tight ends, the ones who are able to block and contribute to that skill set on the field will do a lot of good for themselves to keep a roster spot.
There could be some surprises, and once these players can start scrimmaging against each other and play in the three preseason games, that is when we’ll see which players are the best of this position battle.