Texans Positional Outlook: Darren Fells was an Unlikely Source of Production
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans' tight end position went into the 2019 season with athleticism and youth on its side. With the potential of Jordan Thomas and the Texans spending a third-round selection on Kahale Warring, many were expecting to see one of the two players step up and infuse life into the position group.
The production at the position came from the unlikely of sources in Darren Fells who set a franchise record for touchdowns in the season with seven, and Jordan Akins turn into a reliable target for Deshaun Watson breaking tackles and eating up yards.
Here is a rundown of the tight end position group for the Texans.
Starter- Darren Fells (UFA)
Backups- Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, *Kahale Warring
The veteran in Darren Fells won the starting spot heading into the season due to injuries to Jordan Thomas and rookie draft pick Kahale Warring during training camp. Fells set a franchise record with seven touchdown receptions for a tight end. The emergence of Jordan Akins also helped the passing game. Late in the season, Akins became a favorite target of Watson working out of spread formations. Thomas returned late in the season from the injured reserve but did not make much of an impact.
Outlook for the Tight Ends Heading into 2020
The Texans attempted to extend Darren Fells' contract at the end of the 2019 season but that did not materialize as hoped. Having a career year, Fells is set to pursue the open market or attempt to make the Texans pony up a decent contract for his production as an inline tight end last season.
Jordan Akins turned into the most reliable pass catcher of the group and was the option when the offense went to 11 personnel. Akins will continue to grow with the offense and his ability to move to H-Back gives him added value as a player.
The Texans have a log-jam with tight ends that have potential but have little to show for it. That is where Jordan Thomas and Kahale Warring fit at the moment in the roster.
Thomas is a converted wide receiver and showed throughout training camp he can be an issue with the ball coming his way. A hamstring injury and then a rib injury in the final game of the preseason landed him on the injured reserve. Thomas came back late in the season but made little impact on the offense. The Texans like Thomas' skill set and what he could possibly bring to the group but there is going to have to be a commitment from Thomas to get his body, mind, and his knowledge of the offense even more dialed in.
As for Warring, a leg injury early in training camp plus a concussion suffered in joint practices with the Green Bay Packers never allowed the rookie to even get a chance on the field. He did show some positives in the small amount of time he spent on the field during practice with the Packers but outside of that, he is a question mark. The hope remains is that Warring can be height and weight presence that will grow into the position and become an every-down option from the position.
The Texans movement for the position group starts with if they bring back Fells or not. If Fells returns to the team, that will put pressure on Thomas and Warring to get with the program in a hurry.
The offense needs an inline presence to help in the running game and that is what Fells brought the most and until they solidify that role, Fells or someone similar to him will be needed for 2020.
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