On Tuesday afternoon the Houston Texans made a somewhat of a surprising move in releasing former fourth-round draft pick, Tyler Ervin. Ervin was drafted out of San Jose State in 2016. Ervin spent the large majority of his time on the field returning kicks for the Texans, eclipsing over 1100 kick return yards* over his 3-year career in Houston.
He very seldom saw time in the backfield, only attempting five rushes for 15 yards* and 14 receptions for 91 yards. The speedster’s primary role was to return kicks, which never really took off for him. Ervin was hampered by injury in the 2017 season when he tore his patellar tendon in Week 4.
One area the Texans have appeared to focus on this season really is the special teams unit. They are continually bringing in free agents to try out. These players come in with the hopes of grabbing a spot on special teams and continue their NFL career. This became evident early this season and even pre-season with the signing of veteran NFL QB Joe Webb, who has a reputation as a journeyman special teams ace.
This week the Texans made a move to upgrade the return game by cutting ties with Tyler Ervin and claiming WR DeAndre Carter from the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad.
Carter has spent time with the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers practice squads before making the Eagles 53 man roster this season after a flashy preseason. So far this season Carter had ten punt returns for an avg. of 10.3 y/r and ten kick returns for an avg of 20.4 y/r with a long of 30 yards*. So why Carter over Ervin? Well after watching some quick footage on Carter a few things became evident.
Carter appears to have more commitment when hitting a lane and getting downfield faster, whereas Ervin appeared timid at times. Carter also seems to have a much stronger build and ability to break arm tackles, something that Ervin often would allow to end his returns short of their potential. Carter also had some flashes in the preseason of a strong-handed receiver out of the backfield and when split out too. Something the Texans could use to their advantage to give Deshaun Watson yet another weapon.
I have been very pleased with the moves first-year GM Brian Gaine has made this season, and this one so far on paper appears to be a good move. I'll be very excited to see how Carter is used in the offense if at all with Keke Coutee still nursing a hamstring injury.
While Carter’s return numbers are not much better than Tyler Ervin’s, he could potentially blossom into a good return specialist, something the Texans have been without over the last few years. Carter’s first test will be against a Washington Redskins team that has allowed a league-low 40 yards* on seven returns this year.
* All stats per NFL.com