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Bill O’Brien: Texans still ‘have a good situation’ at running back

Jesse Reed
Bill O'Brien

The Houston Texans lost starting running back Lamar Miller to a torn ACL, which he suffered on his first and only carry of the preseason over the weekend. He’s going to miss the entire season with the injury, but head coach Bill O’Brien isn’t concerned about the team’s depth at running back.

Speaking to local media Monday, O’Brien said “We have a good situation” at the position, praising Duke Johnson, Taiwan Jones, and Buddy Howell, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

He also expressed confidence that Johnson will have the playbook down in time for Week 1:

Johnson was recently acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns. At the time, it was thought that Houston giving up a conditional fourth-round pick that can become a third-round pick (if he is active in 10 games for Houston) for the running back was perhaps overly expensive. Now that Johnson figures to be the team’s primary back, that perception may have shifted.

During his four years with Cleveland, Johnson established himself as one of the premier pass-catching running backs in the NFL. A complementary back with the Browns, he touched the ball 534 times for 3,456 yards and 13 touchdowns. Johnson has never carried the ball more than 104 times in a single season (his rookie year), however.

Jones has never been more than a special-teams ace and has rarely been utilized in the run game since he entered the league as a fourth-round pick out of Eastern Washington in 2011.

Howell — an undrafted rookie in 2018 out of Florida Atlantic — has never carried the ball in a regular-season game.