Source: Texans right tackle Tytus Howard has hand injury, in a cast

HOUSTON – Texans starting right offensive tackle Tytus Howard has suffered a hand injury and is in a cast, according to a league source.

Texans coach DeMeco Ryans was noncommittal when asked how long Howard will be sidelined, saying the former first-round draft pick from Alabama State will be out “for a while.”

With Howard out and Charlie Heck on the physically unable to perform list with a foot issue, veteran George Fant is the starting right tackle at the moment.

Starting center Scott Quessenberry is out for the season with torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. Rookie center Juice Scruggs is slated to replace him currently.

Howard recently signed a three-year, $56 million extension that included an $18 million signing bonus and an average of $18.6 million per year and $36.5 million total guaranteed to make him the fourth-highest paid right tackle

Howard’s offers started out at roughly $16 million per year and increased from a $17 million offer to finishing out at $18.6 million and that offer was accepted, per league sources.

“I feel good, man,” Howard said recently. “I pride myself in being a Texan. I feel like I want to be here my whole career. I love it here, the team, the camaraderie. This year has just been outstanding. I just knew I wanted to be a part of that. I see something good here building. I’m here for the future.

“I’m just entering a phase were I’m homegrown. All I know is being a Texan, it’s the only team I want to play for. I take pride in being here. We’ve got guys like LT] who help take care of me, show me the ropes, but we just want to be here, man. We like being here. It’s a good feeling, man.”

From playing quarterback in high school, walking on at college and gaining 100 pounds and gaining a new position to be selected by former Texans general manager Brian Gaine with the 23rd overall pick, Howard has established himself as a success story.

The Alabama native gained a perspective along the way, and emerged as a top lineman after excelling at Alabama State, a historically black college.

“Yes, sir, it’s been a long journey,” Howard said. All I wanted was a chance when I got here and they gave it to me, man. The Texans gave me a chance and I just ran with it, so as a personal feeling, I’m just grateful because everybody in my position doesn’t get a chance to show themselves like I did.

“So, for me to go out and take advantage of it, it’s inspiration to the younger guys who are coming behind me from HBCU’s to go out there and know that they can achieve everything they need to do. All they need to do is put their head down and work for real.”

Texans general manager Nick Caserio has made a significant capital investment, devoting financial resources to the offensive line and defensive line this offseason. His biggest signings are across the offensive line, including his latest deal, a three-year, $56 million extension for right tackle Tytus Howard as he received $36.5 million guaranteed with an $18 million signing bonus and an $18.6 million average per year that makes him the fourth-highest paid right tackle in the NFL.

Caserio previously made Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil the highest paid offensive lineman in the league for the second time this offseason with a three-year, $75 million deal. He also traded for offensive guard Shaq Mason, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots starter, and signed him to a three-year, $36 million deal. The idea: stability and power to block for running back Dameon Pierce and protect rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud.

“We’ve got to have a foundation,” Howard said. “I feel like the line starts the team. We’re the foundation. When we went and drafted C.J., he’s a great quarterback, and for him to take care of the offensive line the way that he did this offseason, it’s a big standard for us.

“We’ve got to go out there and do what we’ve been paid to do, which is protect him and make him the most comfortable quarterback in the NFL this year, so he can just go out there and win us some games.”

And the reinforcement of the line can boost the chances of a likely rookie starter having a comfort zone in the pocket.

“I would say overall we certain put some resources into the offensive line here over the last year or two,” Caserio said. “The expectation is that it comes with performance. Now, the hard work starts. Tytus has earned it.The way Caserio, the architect of the Texans’ overhauled roster, has operated is in concert with the philosophy of new coach DeMeco Ryans.

“The line is extremely important to me,” Ryans said. “That’s how you win football games. Your defensive and offensive line, they have to be dominant, they have to dominate the line of scrimmage, we have to be able to stop the run defensively, we have to be able to run the ball offensively.

“It all starts with the men that you have. The offensive line, they’ve been working. Credit to those guys. They’re hard workers. They come in every day, put in the work, detailed in their craft.”

How Howard performed last season reinforced his status as one of the top right tackles in the NFL and set the stage for a long-term financial commitment from the AFC South franchise. One year after securing Howard’s services for the 2023 season with a $13.2 million fifth-year club option, the Texans rewarded the former first-round draft pick from Alabama State.

The Texans had already made significant investments in the offensive line this offseason, most notably with Tunsil’s blockbuster contract. And they drafted Penn State center-guard Juice Scruggs in the second round one year after selecting left guard Kenyon Green in the first round out of Texas A&M.

And, now, Howard has gotten his financial reward

Like all contract talks, it ultimately came down to price and structure as the market for elite right tackles continues to rise.

“Tytus has been a good player for the last number of years,” Caserio said. “He’s a good kid. He works his ass off. He’s tough. He’s competitive. Those discussions, some come together, some take a little bit more time than others. Tytus has earned it.”

Mason got a text message from Howard the night of the deal culminating: “We here.”

It’s an exciting group to work with. We will see, as they continue to build and progress, we’ll see how good we can be there.”

Perhaps the offensive line may pick up the bill at dinners this year?

“I think we’ve got it covered for a little while,” Mason said.

The offensive line has been solidified for now and the future.

It gave the entire team a boost.

“Great feeling, man,” Mason said. “Waking up to that news was big for me, big for the room, big for Tytus as well. He deserved it. I know he’s just going to build off that. Now we’re stable, and it’s time to ride.

“Builds confidence. Builds continuity. Us being together for the next however many years, it’s going to build continuity and know what each other is going to do at each moment.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

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