4 Most Likely RBs the Texans Could Pursue Following Lamar Miller's Season-Ending ACL Injury

Dan Israeli
Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys
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The Houston Texans were dealt a major blow to their backfield in the team's Week 3 preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys when Lamar Miller went down with what turned out to be a torn ACL, which will sideline him for the entire 2019 season.

Miller's injury opens the door for Duke Johnson Jr. to take on more of a starting role, but he has mostly been a third-down back in the NFL, with just 299 carries through 64 regular season games. The Texans will likely add another running back through a trade or free agent signing, and it will likely be the latter due to the impending roster cuts that could make some veteran RBs available. The Texans also have undrafted rookie Damarea Crockett, who was a short-yardage beast at Missouri, which could result in a possible three-headed monster no matter which RB the Texans ultimately add.

Here are four names the Texans can pursue, perhaps once the 53-man roster bubble dust clears.

4. Doug Martin

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Doug Martin may hit the free agent market just one day after Miller's injury. The Raiders have reportedly released the veteran RB following one season donning silver and black, though there are also conflicting reports that he may be placed on the injured reserve. The Muscle Hamster, as he loves to be known, Martin had some amazing seasons when he was with the Buccaneers, and wasn't terrible last year on the Raiders with 839 scrimmage yards on 190 touches. He would most likely serve as Johnson's backup, but cut into Duke's early-down work, possibly earning some goal-line snaps as well.

3. Carlos Hyde

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While Carlos Hyde is currently on the Kansas City Chiefs, he is being named as a top potential cut candidate by Chiefs' beat writers following the ascension of rookie Darwin Thompson on the depth chart. If Hyde is released, he represents a solid option for the Texans due to his veteran experience and ability to start on early downs. Hyde's yard-per-carry average has gone down in recent seasons, after peaking at 4.6 in 2016, but he is still just 29, which is relatively young compared to and elder statesman like LeSean McCoy (also rumored to be pursued by Houston). Hyde was not a receiving threat last year, catching just 10 balls in 14 games, so Johnson's third-down role would remain safe if the Texans added the five-year vet.

2. Jay Ajayi

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As one of the more accomplished names among current free agent RBs, Jay Ajayi played in just four games last season before suffering a torn ACL in October. He has dealt with knee injuries his whole career, which caused him to fall to the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft following a stellar two-year run at Boise State. Ajayi has averaged 4.5 yards per carry over his NFL career, and would be the perfect early down complement to Johnson if he is indeed fully healthy and ready to play in Week 1. There is always risk involved with Ajayi, but the Texas would not need to invest very heavily in his services. If Ajayi can stay healthy, the upside is better than some other rumored names (T.J. Yeldon, for example) who have little to no success running the ball at the NFL level.

1. Melvin Gordon

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The Texans didn't look like one of the most likely trade destinations for Melvin Gordon a couple of days ago, but the Miller injury news has changed everything. Gordon's holdout with the Los Angeles Chargers is expected to last into the regular season, but Houston has a ton of cap space and could afford to make Gordon happy with a big contract if they make the trade. Gordon finished 14th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2018, and he has the potential to be an every-down workhorse for whoever is willing to sign him to a new deal.


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