The Houston Texans were dealt a crushing blow in their Week 13 22-17 win over the Denver Broncos. Their promising rookie wide receiver Nathaniel 'Tank' Dell had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after suffering a severe left leg injury.
On Monday, Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans announced that Dell underwent season-ending surgery on his fractured fibula. Ryans said he expects Dell to return sometime during next year's offseason program.
The Texans drafted Dell in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of the University of Houston. Through his first 11 career games, he caught 47 passes for 709 yards and led the team with seven receiving touchdowns. Among fellow rookie pass catches he ranked second in receiving yards and tied for first in receiving touchdowns.
"It hurts to lose Tank," Ryans said after the game. "He has been very valuable to our team and has provided a spark every week he is out on the field. Everybody is waiting for that moment when he shows up and makes an explosive play."
Starting quarterback and fellow rookie CJ Stroud echoed his head coach's sentiments as he, Dell and the rest of the Texans' rookie class had grown close over the past several months.
"I don't know if anyone told y'all, but this rookie class is really close," Stroud said. "When we came in, we had a similar mindset of building this [franchise], we are building the foundation. The foundation is us.
"It was good to see us as brothers send our prayers. I always say, 'One man can send a thousand angels.' I'm sending a thousand angels to Tank right now."
With Dell set to miss the remainder of the season, this means he will not suit up in Week 18 when the Texans play the Colts in the regular season finale. When the teams squared off in Week 2, Dell caught seven passes for 72 yards and a touchdown.