Veteran running back Ron Dayne wasn't even supposed to play. His ankle hurt so much during the week that he didn't participate in any drills.
The coaches kept him active just in case they needed him Thursday against the Broncos though. And sure enough, midway through the third quarter, there was Dayne doing the Heisman pose in the end zone.
With a bad ankle and all, Dayne teamed up with rookie Darius Walker to help lift the Texans to a 31-13 victory at Reliant Stadium.
The duo had the bulk of the team's 158 rushing yards. Dayne finished with 67 yards on 11 carries, and Walker picked up 66 yards on 13 carries.
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"He was inspirational," Walker said of Dayne. "To see a guy who is a little down, who's a little nicked up. It just goes to show what type of player and what type of experience Ron Dayne has. We just kind of fed off each other out there. It was a nice little combo."
It was the best rushing day of the season a Texans team that has been beat up at running back and on the offensive line. The Texans have two running backs, including starter Ahman Green, on the injured reserve. Five offensive linemen, including starters Steve McKinney and Fred Weary, are also on the injured reserve.
Those were non-issues against the Broncos though. Walker, who just made his NFL debut four days earlier, is adjusting to the pro game quickly.
"I feel like we could have hung 250 on them in the rush game," right tackle Eric Winston said. "But sometimes you want to work your game plan and do stuff like that."
The Texans only carried the ball nine times in the first half for 51 yards. At the break, coach Gary Kubiak made adjustments so that the running game was the central focus of the Texans in the second half.
The offense executed the adjustments to near perfection. They ran the ball 22 times for 107 yards in the second half.
"I think the fact that we did settle down in the second half and gave them a chance to run the ball consistently ended up being the difference in the game," Kubiak said.
The Texans will likely go with the Dayne-Walker tandem in the final two weeks of the season when they play Indianapolis and Jacksonville. Their teammates look forward to see where else the pair leads them.
"I think Darius is taking advantage of the opportunity," Winston said. "And what else can you say about Ron Dayne? The guy is a freight train. He really is. You know he's not going to be brought down by the first guy or the second guy. You open up a hole for him and you know he's going to pound it. He's going to get yards. He's always falling forward. Those little things are huge for us."