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Houston Texans WR Nico Collins steps up after Tank Dell injury

Tank Dell is out for the season with a broken fibula, but the Houston Texans already have someone ready to step up.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The former Michigan Wolverine star wide receiver, Nico Collins, was drafted by the Houston Texans in a seemingly otherwise uneventful 2021 NFL draft for H-Town. A fan base starving for something, anything, positive to hang onto hung their hopes on Collins ability to step into the shoes of former Texans greats DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson.

While Collins still hasn’t cemented his place in the Ring of Honor, he certainly earned an honorable mention Sunday.

Rookie wide out Tank Dell, on an historic march towards the NFL record books, suffered a season ending injury when Dell was blocking for Texans tailback Dameon Pierce.

The injury occurred with 3:53 left in the first quarter of Houston’s 22-17 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, when Texans running back Dameon Pierce rushed for a 3-yard touchdown to put Houston up 9-0. Dell was blocking on the play, and one of his legs got caught in a pile of Broncos defenders as he fell to the ground. The medical cart came out for Dell as his teammates gathered around him. He was officially ruled out at halftime.

The NFL is all about the “next man up” mantra and 3rd year receiver Collins was that next man. Over the course of the game, Collins caught 9 passes on 12 targets, gaining a whopping 191 yards and scoring a touchdown.

This brings Collins season total to 59 catches for 991 yards, an eye-popping 16.8 yard per catch average and six touchdowns. Oh, and he’s only started six games, while participating in 10.

Not too shabby at all.

While it certainly stinks that Tank Dell went down for the season - yet another story of “what could have been” written before our eyes - Collins and fellow receivers Noah Brown, Robert Woods, John Metchie III and Xavier Hutchinson can all step up and keep C.J. Stroud in a target rich environment.

With the Texans still in the playoff picture, Stroud will need all the help he can get. Like more production from the run game, and more three interception outings from Derek Stingley, Jimmie Ward and the rest of the secondary.

In the Hunt

Houston Texans (7–5): After losing to the Jaguars last week, the Texans needed to bounce back and did so against the Broncos. Now in possession of a potentially key tiebreaker, Houston has a road trip coming up against the Jets and Titans.

If Collins continues at his current pace, assuming he starts the final five games of the 2023 season, expect him to end the year with 1486 yards, nine touchdowns and 5th place on the Texans all-time receiving yardage chart.