Texans Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is going to undergo surgery Thursday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb diagnosed during a magnetic resonance imaging exam.
Tunsil is expected to be placed on injured reserve and miss roughly a month.
"Laremy Tunsil will be having surgery on his thumb," Texans coach David Culley said. "We felt like it was best for him to get it done now and return in hopefully the next few weeks."
One of the top blockers in the NFL, Tunsil was initially going to attempt to play through the injury and forego surgery until after the season, but it was determined, according to league sources, that the best course of action was to immediately have surgery. The UCL is attached to the middle joint of the thumb, which keeps the thumb stable to allow to pinch and grasp objects.
The usual recovery time for this type of procedure is roughly four weeks.
The Texans went with Geron Christian at left tackle when Tunsil got hurt Sunday against the New England Patriots. Christian is expected to be the starting left tackle Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts and Tytus Howard will remain at left guard.
Tunsil left during a 25-22 loss to the Patriots in the first half after falling on the ground while blocking in the final minutes of the second quarter.
One year after signing Tunsil to a three-year, $66 million contract extension that included $50 million guaranteed with a $13 million signing bonus, the Texans restructured that deal this offseason to create $10.106 million in salary cap space. Signed to a three-year, $66 million contract extension a year ago that included $50 million guaranteed with a $13 million signing bonus with an average of $22 million annually, Tunsil's original $16.15 million base salary was converted into a $15.16 million signing bonus. He now has a $990,000 fully guaranteed base salary for 2021 and a salary cap figure of $9.29 million, down from $19.4 million.
Including the fifth-year club option of $10.85 million Tunsil was paid last year, the deal still has a total value of $76.35 million.
In other injury updates, Texans rookie wide receiver Nico Collins, who's been on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, is being designated for return and returns to practice this week.
Veteran wide receiver Danny Amendola is practicing Wednesday as he tries to play Sunday after missing the past three games with a strained hamstring.
"He's making progress," Culley said. "Hopefully, we get him to the point where he's ready to go."
Defensive tackle Ross Blacklock is returning from the reserve-COVID-19 list after testing positive and missing the past two games.
Culley emphasized that the team will take it slowly with the former second-round draft pick due to the usual conditioning issues that have been associated with COVID-19.
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, designated for return from injured reserve from a strained hamstring, will not play this week.
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