Laremy Tunsil reports, Lovie Smith calls him 'final piece of the puzzle'

HOUSTON -- Laremy Tunsil fired out of his stance, stonewalling pass rushers as he mirrored their movements with his rare athleticism.

Absent previously from voluntary organized team activities, the Texans' Pro Bowl left offensive tackle was back Tuesday for a mandatory full-team minicamp.

It was a welcome addition for the Texans as Tunsil is one of their most talented and accomplished players regardless of position.

Texans coach Lovie Smith wanted Tunsil to be in attendance all along, but he's not looking back at how the former Miami Dolphins first-round draft pick mapped out his individual offseason plan. Smith is looking forward to how Tunsil can impact the offense as the bodyguard for second-year starting quarterback Davis Mills.

Having Tunsil as a part of the practice sessions is significant, especially after he underwent thumb surgery last season and was placed on injured reserve after five games.

"Of course, Laremy is here today," Smith said. "It was good to see him get back out on the football field. That was the final piece of this puzzle we're putting together. First date, you get to know each other a little bit. We've been communicating with him throughout. It was good to see one of your best football players, one of the best offensive tackles in football. You add him to our team and we're a better football team, simple as that."

Under former coach and general manager Bill O'Brien, the Texans traded for Tunsil and made him the highest paid offensive tackle in the NFL with a three-year, $66 million contract. This offseason, the Texans restructured Tunsil's contract by converting his $17.85 million salary to $16.815 million bonus with $1.035 million as his new salary. That lowed his salary cap figure to $17.7 million from $26.1 million. His 2023 salary of $18.5 million is unchanged.

The chemistry element of having Tunsil around his teammates is a part of the equation, too.

"It's voluntary work in the offseason for most of this," Smith said. "In an ideal world, I wanted Laremy to be here every day, but sometimes guys aren't here. When they are here, we aren't going to make him change his last name or anything like that. We're going to let him keep the same number and he's going to help us win a lot of games this year."

How Tunsil excels in pass protection is what sets him apart from other blockers around the league.

At 6-foot-5, 313 pounds, Tunsil is extremely athletic with polished technique and outstanding size and strength.

And with Tunsil back in the fold, Tytus Howard is able to line up at his natural right tackle position.

"He looked great," Mills said of Tunsil, who protects his blind side. "Obviously, he wasn't here for most of the offseason. He came back and there was no time lost. He came in with a really solid feel of the playbook. I thought he stepped in today and performed extremely well. We're excited to have him back."

Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and analyst and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

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