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Texans WR Tank Dell: 'We know we have a target on our back' after surprising 2023 season

Coming off a 3-13-1 season and in their first year under rookie head coach DeMeco Ryans, the Texans shocked the football world in 2023. Houston, led by No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud, went from worst to first in the AFC South and won a playoff game, its first postseason victory in four seasons.

Entering 2024, however, the Texans won't be able to sneak up on the NFL. Expectations are different now, and the team knows it.

"We ready," second-year receiver Tank Dell told Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston on Saturday. "We're all excited. We know we have a target on our back. We got a lot of things we want to accomplish: Super Bowl, playoffs, things like that. So we're ready to go work."

Not only are the Texans returning most of their main stars from last year's surprising run to the postseason -- Offensive Rookie of the Year Stroud, Will Anderson Jr., Nico Collins, Derek Stingley Jr. -- but Houston will boast a number of new, notable names in 2024. The reigning AFC South champs added Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter and Joe Mixon to the mix in the offseason, as sure a sign as any that Texans brass believes the time to strike is now.

Though Houston has yet to prove it can get over the hump against the conference's top crop -- the Texans were crushed by Baltimore in the Divisional Round -- the organization certainly has some enemies in the AFC South after its come-from-behind division title.

This offseason has been littered with back-and-forth barbs between Stroud and members of the Colts, whom Houston usurped on the final weekend of the season to claim the division. There's also certainly no love lost with the Jaguars, who, after their 2022 South title, blew their hold on the division in 2023 with five losses in their last six games. The animus between Houston and Tennessee (formally Houston) needs no further explanation.

The Texans' newfound status in the AFC South and the NFL is reflected in their prominence in the league's prime-time schedule. Houston is set to be featured in four prime-time games and two standalone contests around the holidays (at Chiefs in Week 16, vs. Ravens in Week 17). The Texans' three division rivals, meanwhile, boast four standalone games total (not counting Duval's annual trips to London).

If Houston is a target, it'll be hard to miss this fall.

As for Dell, who is recovering from a gunshot wound suffered in April and has been participating at Houston's offseason workouts, he has expectations on par with his squad's.

In his rookie season, Dell racked up 709 yards and seven touchdowns on 47 catches, not bad for a first-year WR playing in a shortened campaign due to a fractured fibula.

"I'm way better," the healed-up wideout told Wilson. "I feel like I'm way better than I was last year at this time. The little bit of experience I got before I got injured, I already know the playbook. So I don't have to put too much stress on that. I'm just working every day. I know I'm ready."

The question now is are Dell and the Texans ready, after a year as the hunter, to be the hunted?

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