Texans rookie Teagan Quitoriano emerging as dual-threat tight end

Growing up in Oregon, Teagan Quitoriano had defined responsibilities: school, sports and helping his parents.

They instilled a strong work ethic in the future Texans rookie tight end.

His mother, Bobbi, is working on her psychology degree and his father, Tony, works in the warehouse at Costco.

"My parents worked very hard for everything," Quitoriano said. "Growing up, I saw that and learned from that. I had a lot of chores. I definitely pulled my weight around the house. Really, my job was sports and school and making sure the dishes were washed when my parents got home."

Now, Quitoriano, pronounced Kwi-tore-ee-on-o, is establishing himself and adapting to the NFL after growing up in Salem, the capital of Oregon and third-largest city in the state with a population of 177,723.

"It's a lot different than Houston," Quitoriano said. "It's a good small-town life. It's tight-knit. Everybody knows everybody. It's a really good place to grow up."

Quitoriano is growing up fast with the Texans after missing the start of the season on injured reserve with a knee injury. At 6-foot-6, 256 pounds, the fifth-round draft pick from Oregon State is a powerful blocker at the point of attack capable of shoving around defenders and creating pathways for the running game. He's emerging as a more complete tight end who can be counted on in the passing game, too. Quitoriano has two touchdowns, including one last Sunday in an overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and a leaping score against the Philadelphia Eagles in his first NFL game after being activated from injured reserve. He has four receptions for 30 yards on nine targets.

"I feel really good about it," Quitoriano said. "I had that setback and missed the start of the season and I just tried to keep my head up, keep working on my craft, keep my head in the game and stay really tight on the playbook. I think I did a pretty good job with that, started knocking the rust off and continue to improve."

When the Texans drafted Quitoriano, they envisioned him as a classic Y tight end who can block and be a threat in the passing game. He has lived up to that advance billing. Quitoriano has become the Texans' top blocking tight end.

“We scouted him and brought him in wanting him to be a traditional Y tight end: a guy that can block in-line, block the defensive ends, tackles, all of that," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "With being able to be a factor in the passing game, I think that’s what we’ve gotten. He is going to be an excellent blocker, but I think what we’ve seen from him being a pass catcher has maybe even been a little bit more. You just never know when a rookie comes in exactly what you’re going to get."

Since missing time with the injury, which didn't require surgery, Quitoriano has played in seven games with five starts.

His chemistry and timing with quarterback Davis Mills keeps trending upward.

"I'm just being more comfortable, understanding coverages and where my spots are," Quitoriano said. "I think that's my biggest improvement and just really being comfortable out there. I'm getting trust with them that I'm going to be in the right spot. That's been big, too."

Selected 170th overall, Quitoriano, caught 40 passes for 512 yards and six touchdowns at Oregon State.

"Once we drafted him, seeing some of his film from college and seeing what he’s done early on, it’s extremely impressive," Mills said. "The more he continues to develop like he has, I’m really excited for his future.”

Quitoriano became the fifth player in franchise history to catch a touchdown in his first career game and the first since tight end Brevin Jordan last year. He’s the third player in franchise history to catch a touchdown on his first career reception, joining Derick Armstrong in 2003 and Jaelen Strong in 2015.

“Teagan is really the epitome a guy that takes a lot of pride in playing without the ball," offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. "That’s one of the requirements that we have for our skill players, but we won’t just designate him as a run blocker. He’s also a weapon in the passing game. The more he continues to practice with our quarterbacks, we’re hoping that we’ll be able to feature him in the passing game as well.”

Quitoriano started as a true freshman for the Beavers. He was an all-state football and basketball selection at Sprague High School who originally committed to Oregon before accepting a scholarship to Oregon State.

He was projected as high as the third round, but a disappointing 40-yard dash of 4.93 seconds impacted his draft stock. 

"I knew there was a chance I would go higher," Quitoriano said. "I knew how fast I ran my 40 would dictate how early I would get drafted, but I didn't care. I'm happy to be in Houston I'm happy the spot I'm at. There was a chance I would have went earlier, but, all in all, I'm happy with how it panned out."

Learning from veteran tight ends Jordan Akins and O.J. Howard, who are both playing under one-year contracts, Quitoriano represents the future for the Texans at the position. 

Quitoriano plans to devote his offseason to improving in every facet of his game and his physical preparation for his second NFL season. He's enjoying Houston, including the food, having recently tried a Korean barbecue restaurant with plans to try Steak 48 on his list. His girlfriend is moving to Houston in June when she completes school.

"I just want to keep getting stronger, and mentally better at football," Quitoriano said. "I just want to get more comfortable out there. I like the weather. Sometimes, it gets a little hot. I like the people. The people are nice. I like the food a lot. I like being here."

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Kansas City Chiefs v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

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