Tank Dell did on Thursday night in New England, what he's done at nearly every Texans training camp practice over the last few weeks. Along with what he did for the University of Houston the last two autumns.
Dell made plays.
The rookie receiver caught a game-high five passes for 65 yards and a second quarter touchdown in Houston's 20-9 preseason victory over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
"It was good to see Tank make some plays," Texans Head Coach DeMeco Ryans said. "We've seen him make a lot of plays throughout training camp. Some of these same plays. So it's good to see him do the same thing here in a game."
With 12 seconds remaining before the half, and the Texans facing a 1st-and-Goal at the Patriots' 6-yard line, Mills fired to the front left corner of the end zone. It hit Dell, popped skyward, and fell back into the rookie's arms as he managed to stay in bounds. It put the Texans in front of New England and capped a 7-play, 62-yard drive that lasted 2:53.
"I just tried to give him a good release," Dell said. "He was playing outside leverage, so I tried to give him something to the inside. He fell for it. Me and Davis just connected, so it was good."
Mills liked what he saw from Dell on that touchdown, as well as on the drive. It was reflective, Mills said, of everything Dell's done as a Texan the last few months on the practice field.
"Electrifying," Mills said of Dell. "That's the best way to describe him. He's going to make guys miss in tight windows. When he catches the short pass, he's going to try to score anywhere he gets it on the field."
Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud played the opening two series of the ballgame and targeted Dell once. He explained how the scoring pass from Mills to Dell is only the beginning.
"That's just a glimpse of what he can do," Stroud said. "He's showed so much already in camp. That play was a great release, good ball by Davis, back shoulder, and it was good focus because it always is different when you're out there. "He made a lot of good plays. He's a great player. I can't wait to see what we do together."
Dell's longest grab of the night was a 24-yarder that began the scoring drive. Also on that possession, he pulled in passes for gains of eight and 12 yards. His 13-yard punt return began the drive at the Texans' 38-yard line.
Despite the successful evening, Dell still pointed out that there are some areas for improvement.
"After watching film we're going to have a lot of corrections," Dell said. "We didn't play our best game, but that's what football is for: just correct things, try to be great for the next week."
Dell and the Texans will return to the practice fields on Saturday afternoon at the Houston Methodist Training Center.