Texans' Tytus Howard returns to practice

Texans starting right offensive tackle Tytus Howard returned to practice in some capacity Friday morning with a cast on his left hand. It’s an encouraging sign as Howard has made steady progress in his recovery from a broken hand suffered in two places that required the insertion of metal hardware to aid the healing process.

Howard has not been ruled out for a potential return as soon as the Texans’ season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, according to league sources.

If Howard isn’t ready, the Texans have veteran right tackle George Fant available as he’s been starting the preseason games. Plus, the Texans acquired former University of Houston offensive tackle Joshua Jones and a seventh-round draft pick in a trade from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a fifth-round selection Thursday. Jones was at practice Friday.

Wide receiver John Metchie III returned to practice. He is routinely given rest days one year after missing his rookie season with a treatable form of leukemia.

Several players didn’t practice, including fullback Andrew Beck (personal matter), defensive tackle Thomas Booker (hand-wrist), linebacker Blake Cashman (hamstring), linebacker Christian Kirksey (hamstring), tight end Brevin Jordan (hamstring), safety Brandon Hill (hamstring), wide receiver Jared Wayne (Grade 2 hamstring), offensive tackle Charlie Heck (foot, physically unable to perform list), defensive tackle Roy Lopez (hamstring), running backs Dare Ogunbowale and Gerrid Doaks and defensive end Chase Winovich

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.”

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 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.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Texans sign punter Ty Zentner with Cameron Johnston injured

By Aaron Wilson

The Texans signed former Philadelphia Eagles punter Ty Zentner due to regular punter Cameron Johnston being sidelined with a calf injury, according to a league source.

Johnston tweaked his calf and it is regarded as a short-term injury, per a league source. His time table for recovery is currently estimated at one to two weeks. Zentner will punt Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome.

Zentner is a former second-team All-Big 12 selection at Kansas State who signed with the Eagles after going undrafted. He averaged 44.5 yards per punt last year.

The Texans released rookie offensive tackle Jacky Chen and cornerback Darius Phillips.

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

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