With training camp just around the corner, we take a look at veteran players who could potentially be on the bubble like running back Alfred Blue
It’s no joke that the NFL is a young man’s game. Age catches up with players quicker in this sport than any other. Couple that with the influx of young talent coming into the league every season and it’s no surprise that veteran players are constantly on the bubble.
One position especially susceptible to being on the bubble would be the running back spot. The life span of NFL running backs is lower than any other position, and these guys hardly ever seem to get big second contracts, unless they happen to be a franchise player.
Teams seem to operate under the assumption that after four-or-five seasons a runner is too beat up, and can be easily replaced with younger (and less expensive) guys who also have much more tread left on their tires.
That makes guys like Alfred Blue a candidate for the bubble watch. The third-year back out of LSU has been less-than-stellar in his career, and despite seeing franchise rushing leader Arian Foster cut this offseason, Blue finds himself in an incredibly crowded backfield in Houston.
For the Houston Texans, the starting spot is locked up by their newest addition, Lamar Miller, who was brought over from the Miami Dolphins. Miller has been a solid player, but he was incredibly under-utilized in Miami, and comes to Houston with plenty of experience but without the wear of most backs with four years under their belt.
After Miller, Houston features a solid third-down back in Jonathan Grimes, a quick rookie fourth-round pick in Tyler Ervin and a couple youngsters with upside in Kenny Hilliard and Akeem Hunt.
Blue could find himself on the outside of this group for a couple of reasons. The first being that he was given a chance to be the guy more than once and has failed to deliver. In 2014 with Arian Foster hurt, the rookie rushed for 528 yards and two scores. In 2015 again Foster was hurt and Blue rushed for 698 yards and two scores.
Maybe at first glance those rushing totals don’t look too bad, but his average per attempts were. As a rookie Blue managed just 3.1 yards per rush and followed that up with 3.8 yards in 2015. He also showed his lack of ability in a preseason game in which it took him three tries from one-yard out to score a touchdown.
The second reason could be the level of the players around him, mainly Ervin and Grimes. With Ervin possessing more upside (and a higher draft grade) and Grimes averaging 5.0 yards per rush in 2015, those two could easily become numbers one and two in Houston.
Ervin and Grimes also both can contribute on special teams as Ervin has all the tools to be a solid return man. Grimes is already heralded as an ace on special teams, whereas Blue doesn’t contribute in this area.