Texans on left guard Tytus Howard: ‘He’s improving’


Tytus Howard is still absorbing the nuances of his new position and remains a work in progress as the Texans’ left offensive guard.

The former first-round draft pick from Alabama State is making the transition from his natural right tackle position, which is now manned by veteran tackle Marcus Cannon.

The Texans shifted Howard, an aggressive, physical blocker at 6-foot-5, 322 pounds, inside with the desire to get their five best blockers across the line on the field.

Howard hasn’t graded out highly on Pro Football Focus analytics with a 34.8 overall grade through three starts and had some missed blocks against defensive tackle Derrick Brown in a loss to the Carolina Panthers that led to tackles in the Texans’ backfield.

The Texans remain confident in Howard, who has embraced the position shift.

“He’s improving,” Texans coach David Culley said. “He’s getting more comfortable there. The more he’s been there, the more comfortable he’s gotten. The more comfortable he is with those guys working together over there, making calls and being on the same page.

“I think it’s been good for him simply because he’s been stable there in one position and he’s getting more and more comfortable with that. I think you are starting to see him play a little bit more aggressive than what he has in the past, simply because he’s getting more comfortable.”

Howard has the requisite size, power and nasty streak to succeed as an interior blocker muscling hefty defensive tackles.

“I feel very comfortable,” Howard said earlier this season. “I feel that I can do pretty good. I feel like the team wouldn’t put me at a position if they didn’t think that. So I feel comfortable going into the first game.

“You get a chance to be a lot more physical. You get a chance to not block anybody. The tackle has a blocker. With the defensive end on him, I can go chip him and stuff like that. It’s a lot of fun playing inside, I really like it.”

Howard plays the game with an aggressive personality and delivers punishing blocks. The in-fighting at the line of scrimmage, protecting his territory, is right up his alley.

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns

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Signed to a four-year, $12.225 million contract that includes a club fifth-year option, Howard is much healthier this season. A year ago, he endured a rough offseason that included recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, a procedure to repair a broken finger, and dealing with no offseason practices due to the coronavirus pandemic. He wound up getting off to a slow start.

Now the Texans want to see Howard regain the form that made him an all-rookie selection as he’s being coached by former NFL offensive lineman James Campen.

A lot of Howard’s physical and mental qualities make him well-suited to play guard, which he hadn’t played since he was a rookie in his first NFL game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“When I was first drafted, I played inside my first game against the Jags, I went through that whole training camp at left guard,” Howard said. “I think that by me doing that, it helped me for this time for when I moved back inside, I was just remembering the stuff that I went through and what I did to get better every day and I just attacked that.

“My coach, he played guard, he helped me out and I got other guys who switch positions and talk to me about what I can do to adjust to the change. I just took all that home and I am liking it.”

Nonetheless, playing guard represents a major change for Howard.

“Now offensive lineman, they all love the run block,” Culley said. “They all love coming off the ball. The big challenge in his case being a tackle and a guard is the pass blocking because of how it is when you’re on the edge as opposed to being inside having help. I think that’s been a plus for him from a pass blocking standpoint is that obviously he’s proven in the past that he can play outside also and be a good pass blocker.

“With being inside, a lot of things happen. There are games that happen were you have to work with the center, you got to work with the tackle and he’s learning all of that right now and he’s getting more and more comfortable with that. But the transition is probably a little bit tougher for pass blocking than run blocking.”

Meanwhile, Cannon is making progress after undergoing offseason arthroscopic knee surgery and straining a calf muscle. A three-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots, the Odessa Permian and TCU graduate missed all three preseason games.

“His stamina has gotten much, much better,” Culley said. “He’s been what we thought he would be. We weren’t sure how much he would be able to go and be able to do at this point. He’s further along than what we anticipated at this time and a lot earlier than what we anticipated at this time and he’s playing good football for us.”

Veteran guard Lane Taylor remains on the practice squad after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last year with the Green Bay Packers.

“Well, Lane is still trying to get it all figured out from the standpoint of where he fits and making sure that things are right with him physically,” Culley said. “He’s getting there, much better physically. He’s not unhealthy right now. It’s just working him back in. He’s still right there in the picture and at some point, could be available for us.”

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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