Texans' Charlie Heck tests positive, placed on reserve-COVID-19 list

Charlie Heck, the Texans' starting right offensive tackle,was placed on the reserve-COVID-19 list.

Heck wasn't at practice as his testing sample was retested and determined to be positive, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.

Heck isn't experiencing major symptoms, according to league sources.

As a vaccinated player, Heck can return as soon as this week provided that he has two consecutive days of negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

With Heck sidelined, the Texans have some flexibility at the right tackle position. They can insert veteran former New England Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon at right tackle. Cannon was activated from the active-physically unable to perform list last week after recovering from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery and a strained calf.

The Texans can also shift left guard Tytus Howard back to his natural right tackle spot and insert Justin McCray at left guard with Max Scharping remaining at right guard or have McCray play on the right side and have Scharping go back to the left side.

After struggling with the speed of the game as a rookie, Heck was called the most improved player on the roster by coach David Culley during training camp.

“When I came here and this staff came here, and we went in to our OTAs and went into our offseason program, I don’t know if there is a player on the team who improved as much as Charlie did from the start to this point right now,” Culley said. “And that’s not surprising because he has a great work ethic. He’s going into that year now where you want to see that progress made, and we’re starting to see that. And that’s what happens when you do what he did to be in the position that he’s in right now.”

A year ago, Heck struggled mightily during training camp.

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

Heck encountered a steep learning curve while adjusting to the superior speed of experienced pass rushers.

Heck made progress eventually after he allowed one sack and forced fumble, two quarterback hits and one hurry for four pressures overall against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The son of Kansas City Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck has made significant upgrades to his game and strength. Other than allowing two sacks to defensive end Jacob Martin during an intrasquad scrimmage, Heck has had a strong training camp. 

In college, Heck previously started at right tackle as a sophomore and a junior. Heck bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times at the NFL scouting combine and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.16 seconds.

“Strength is a big thing,” Heck said. “You know, confidence is big, knowing your job inside and out, trusting your technique, that huge for an O-lineman.”

The son of Kansas City Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck, a former NFL offensive lineman and first-round draft pick from Notre Dame, Heck gets a lot of valuable advice from his father.

“My dad has been a great resource for me,” Heck said. “One thing he always says is its camp and it’s getting better every single day, finding something to work on and just improving on that every day.

“Football has always been a part of my life. What’s special to me is that my dad has always been my dad first. He wasn’t really that kind of coaching figure. I mean obviously as I got older, he was a resource for me but he was always a dad first.”

Playing for new Texans offensive line coach James Campen, a former Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns assistant, has provided a boost to his game.

“He’s been an awesome coach for us so far,” Heck saidduring camp. “You know he’s played in this league, he understands it, he’s great at kind of picking out individual things for each player and working on that each day. So, it’s been awesome to have him.”

Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.

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