Rookie review: Tytus Howard found home at right tackle
, Houston Chronicle Jan. 17, 2020
Tytus Howard overcame a broken finger and a torn meniscus, embracing the learning curve that accompanied making the jump from Alabama State to emerge as a rookie starter.
Although the Texans’ first-round draft pick ultimately ended his season on injured reserve and underwent knee surgery, his first year in the league was a success story.
What Howard and the Texans learned during his half-season was this: He’s a natural right tackle, not a left tackle.
And his quickness and strength made him an immediate impact player in pass protection, walling off pass rushers. His run-blocking showed power as he was a good drive blocker against big defensive linemen. His overall technique still has room for improvement.
“I can compete at a high level,” Howard said. “Being consistent is a key for me. Being from a small school, it means a lot to start as a rookie and play at a high level. It’s a building block for next year.
“It just gives me more confidence knowing you played at a high level your rookie year. It gives you more energy and motivation. I can only get better from here and keep building. That’s my goal.”
The Texans are confident that they got it right by picking Howard. He was the offensive tackle they targeted throughout the draft process. Contrary to multiple reports and several assumptions, it wasn’t Washington State tackle Andre Dillard, who went to the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round.
The Texans zeroed in on Howard after meeting with him at the Senior Bowl and NFL scouting combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 5.05 seconds, and working him out privately and bringing him in for an official visit.
Signed to a four-year, $12.2 million guaranteed contract with a 2023 fifth-year club option, Howard had just five penalties and allowed only two sacks as a rookie.
“Tytus had a really good rookie year,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “The guy was really playing well for us. Very tough, very physical, very athletic, great guy, great teammate. He was injured in the Kansas City game in October, and it was a tough injury.
“He tried to come back, he played with it, and then we decided to shut him down because it wasn’t going to be good for him. It was better for him to begin that rehab process and all those things, but he’s got a really bright future.”
Being recognized as an all-rookie choice (by several outlets including the Pro Football Writers of America) isn’t all that important to Howard even though it does represent a validation of his skills.
“It was pretty good, but, really, to be honest with you, that doesn’t mean that much to you,” Howard said. “I’m all about the team. It would be better if we had gotten more wins.”
Howard’s next step is regaining his health. He’s made steady progress since undergoing surgery. Although he offered no time table, Howard is expected to participate in the offseason training program and organized team activities.
He’s also getting married in February.
“Looking forward to getting healthy this offseason and getting ready for next season,” Howard said. “It’s going pretty good rehabbing. I’m getting ready for next year. My main goal is to get back on the field. I can’t take too much time off.”
Howard injected toughness and power into the offensive line. When the 6-5, 322-pounder hurt his knee against Kansas City in October, he only missed two games and returned for a win over Jacksonville in London.
“The best moment was just dealing with the injury and coming back and getting a hard-fought win in Jacksonville,” Howard said. “That was very emotional to me. At one point in time, I thought I wouldn’t play the rest of the season. The coaches supported me and I’m just glad to have a part in the success.”
The Texans initially tried Howard at left guard and left tackle. He didn’t look comfortable, though, and became the starting right tackle against the Los Angeles Chargers.
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