The Houston Texans running back group is setting up to have some new faces when training camp breaks but there are few spots to sort out on the depth chart moving forward. The group is one of the more versatile the team has had in some time after the Texans made an effort to get younger by investing in D'Onta Foreman in the third round of the NFL Draft, adding Foreman to a depth chart that will consist of their top snap player in Lamar Miller plus Alfred Blue, Tyler Ervin and Akeem Hunt. Also, the Texans brought in rookie Dare Ogunbowale to round out an interesting group moving forward.
“Good group,” Bill O’Brien said of the running backs on the roster. “But, for all those guys – I think we have a real good idea of what Lamar (Miller) can do, we know what (Alfred) Blue can do, but some of those guys, it’s going to take training camp and the running game in training camp with the pads on, their vision, their ability to break tackles.”
The Texans have been working the younger players during OTAs and are being careful with Miller during work on the field. Getting the younger players practice reps in the offense is the priority, so that the young guys will be ready for training camp. Lamar Miller likes what he sees from the group.
“I think everybody’s looking good so far,” Miller said of the early work in OTAs. “We’re not really doing much as running backs but just catching the ball out of the backfield and just knowing the assignments. I think everybody’s out there competing, having fun, and making sure everybody’s doing their job.”
The running back group will need training camp to sort out who can handle various workloads in the run game. How the runners break tackles and make defenders miss is a point of emphasis for O’Brien and offense in 2017. The Texans lacked backs who had the ability to break tackles consistently with the ball in their hands and it appears the team is trying to avoid Miller shouldering the entire run game. The addition of Foreman is comparable to what they want Blue to be, an inside the tackle runner who can move the pile, while Ervin and Hunt have the skill set to hurt defenses in both the run and passing games. However, consistency is needed from both Ervin and Hunt on game days.
Running back position coach Charles London likes the early returns he has seen from his group in the spring.
“It is, and it’s probably the most competitive group that we’ve had since we’ve been here, and it’s a really diverse group,” London said of the backs. “You have guys that we consider three-down backs, we have some first- and second- down backs, we’ve got guys that can really help in the passing game. So, it’s a really diverse group that as coaches we have to find a way to maximize each other’s skillsets.”
There are a few spots set in stone barring injury, but the filling out of the depth chart will be one of the more interesting storylines moving forward for the Texans offense.