Houston Texans should keep Lamar Miller on speed-dial
Given David Johnson’s injury history and Carlos Hyde’s departure, the Houston Texans would be wise to keep close tabs on former running back Lamar Miller.
As of this writing, former Houston Texans starting running back Lamar Miller is still a free agent.
Miller suffered a devastating injury when he tore his ACL in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys last year. Five days after he landed on injured reserve at the end of August, Bill O’Brien traded tackle Martinas Rankin to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for Carlos Hyde.
Hyde went on to play a full 16-game season for the Texans and rushed for a career-high 1,070 yards. Last spring, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency.
On the surface, the Texans should still be fine at running back in 2020. They shipped DeAndre Hopkins out of town but got David Johnson back from the Arizona Cardinals.
Johnson is just a few years removed from a phenomenal season in 2016, but he’s also dealt with injuries of late — both last year and in 2017. It’s important to note that for all his hype following that magical ’16 season, Johnson still got run out of town last year by former Miami Dolphins castoff Kenyan Drake, of all people.
This isn’t meant to disparage Johnson. Hopefully, he’s everything the Texans hope he’ll be and more this year. He’s already been working out with Deshaun Watson and other players during the summer, and he’ll be expected to slot in as both the RB1 for Houston as well as one of the Texans’ main receivers this season.
Should Johnson get hurt though, it would put O’Brien’s club in an interesting position, no doubt.
Duke Johnson is still here as the change-of-pace back, and while he has yet to miss an NFL game in his five-year career, he also has never been the primary bellcow back for an offense either. Whether it was Hyde in Houston, Hyde in Cleveland, or Isaiah Crowell in Cleveland, Duke Johnson has always played second fiddle at RB — and that’s probably where he’s best suited.
Behind the two Johnsons on the Texans depth chart are third-year rusher Buddy Howell — who has a grand total of five rushing attempts for 10 yards (2.0 YPA average) in the regular season thus far — and undrafted rookie Karan Higdon from Michigan.
Needless to say, there might be some depth and experience concerns here.
If he’s healthy and recovered, Lamar Miller could have lot to prove for Houston
Lamar Miller is an interesting name to keep tabs on if you’re a Texans fan worried about the running back depth chart this season.
While Miller’s own health is obviously a concern after suffering such a debilitating injury less than a year ago, it’s also important to note that Miller was averaging 4.1 yards per carry with the Texans during his three seasons in Houston before he became a free agent.
He also eclipsed 1,000 yards in his first year in H-Town (1,073 to be exact) and came awfully close in 2017 (888 yards) and 2018 (973 yards).
Finally, it’s worth considering Miller as a different style of back — especially given the similarities in style between the two Johnsons.
Miller could easily slide in the role he once held himself before Hyde took it last year: that of the power running back. Don’t forget that Miller is still just 29 years old as well.