Lamar Miller went down with a torn ACL in the preseason, leaving the Texans thin at running back. Duke Johnson is the top running back on the roster, but the team should probably add a veteran to help shoulder the workload. Here are 4 running backs the Houston Texans should target.
1. Carlos Hyde
Hyde is still on the Kansas City Chiefs, but it looks like he may be cut or traded in the coming days, as he didn’t get the expected work in the preseason. He would be a good complement to Johnson, as Hyde is a more powerful runner and Johnson is more of a third-down back.
The 28-year-old has rushed for 3,300 yards and 26 touchdowns in his five NFL seasons. Last year, he spent time with the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars and averaged 4.0 yards per carry. If he could manage to pick up yards behind the Texans’ inconsistent offensive line, it could open up the offense even more for Deshaun Watson.
2. Jay Ajayi
After finishing last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Ajayi is still unsigned. It is odd for a 26-year-old running back to still be on the market, but he has had injury issues. He is another running back that could bring a different style than Johnson.
In his four seasons in the league, Ajayi has rushed for 2,516 yards and 13 touchdowns. He spent two seasons with the Dolphins then was traded to the Eagles, but has not gotten a new contract in the NFL. Ajayi has yet to play a full 16-game season in his career, but could still be a nice asset at running back for the Texans.
3. Alex Collins
Collins, 25, was the third-leading rusher on the Ravens last season, but was not brought back after he was arrested and the team signed Mark Ingram. He too is a different running back than Johnson and can bring some versatility to the offense.
The former Arkansas Razorback has rushed for 1,509 yards and 14 touchdowns in his career. In 2017 he averaged 4.6 yards per carry, but that number dipped to 3.6 last season. The 3.6 yards per carry is something similar to what he can probably produce behind Houston’s offensive line. That isn’t great, but it still might be better than anyone else on their roster, other than Johnson, can produce.
Collins broke his leg in early July and there has not been word on when he could return. Typically it takes six to eight weeks to recover from a broken leg, but it could be worse if there was any damage to ligaments. If it is in the six to eight-week range, Collins should be ready to return to the field soon, but it appears it may be more serious. If Collins is healthy at some point this season and the Texans still haven’t found a running back to go with Johnson Collins should be added.
4. Doug Martin
Last season with the Raiders, Doug Martin was able to demonstrate he still had some left in the tank. The Raiders drafted Josh Jacobs out of Alabama though, so there was no need for Martin on the roster and he was cut. The 30-year-old could be brought in on a one-year deal to help fill out the running back room.
The two-time Pro Bowler has 5,356 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns in his career. He showed he could still provide production last year with 723 yards and four touchdowns. While he is aging, Martin could handle early downs and possibly provide a spark.