HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – It seems like as far back as Justin Forsett can remember he has had to find his way through a crowded backfield.
The path has never been clear whether it was at Cal where Marshawn Lynch, J.J. Arrington and Jahvid Best stood between Forsett and playing or in the pros where he encountered the likes of Julius Jones and Lynch again with the Seattle Seahawks.
“We had a loaded backfield at Cal and then I get up to the Seahawks where we had another loaded backfield,” Forsett recalled over the weekend.”I’m all about competition and finding a role for myself.”
Forsett, a free agent signee of the Texans, finds himself in another crowded backfield competition. Forsett is looking to fill the Texans crticial third down tailback spot and once again he is faced with stiff competition for the job backing up starter Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Forsett, sixth-year NFL veteran, is competing with undrafted rookie free agents Jonathan Grimes and Davin Meggett for the third and final running back spot in the Texans backfield. And after the first week of training camp, the five-foot-8, 194-pound Forsett seems to have a step up on the competition.
Not only does he show great explosiveness out of the backfield, but his pass protection skills and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield have all contributed to his attention-grabbing camp so far.
“Man, I’m impressed,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said when asked to evaluate what he has seen from Forsett so far. “He’s very smart, he plays with some power even though he’s a small kid. He can help us on special teams, he’s been impressive during returns so we are excited.”
But that isn’t to suggest the competition is close to be over as the Texans head into preseason game preparation mode. Grimes, a product of William & Mary, has turned some heads with his explosiveness and ability to make plays in the open field in camp.
Meggett, who played at Maryland, has had his moments, too, but he is clearly behind Forsett and Grimes in the competition for the third tailback.
“It has been very good,” Kubiak said of the competition. “Grimes has a lot of ability and has been very impressive, Megget has got some good running ability, but he’s struggling a little bit with protection. Those guys will play a lot, I will play them a ton in preseason.”
If the season were to start today, Forsett would be Derrick Ward’s replacement as the third running back, while the Texans would be hopeful to hold on to Grimes as practice squad player.
Meggett is a long shot to make the team but with the Texans looking to keep Foster and Tate as fresh as possible for the regular season he will get plenty of opportunities to improve his stock in training camp.
“I have a lot of plays to make and the one thing for sure the position I’m in you are never certain about anything,” Meggett said. “You can’t take any day off but I just hope and pray I take advantage of my opportunities and that the coaches see it and be able to contribute to the team.”
But Meggett recognizes the situation he is in with three backs competing for essential one spot.
“It’s a fairly great competition,” he said. “Forsett, good back. Grimes, good back. Both show explosiveness and great running back qualities. The best I can do is come out daily and put my best foot forward and let the coaches make the judgment.”
The biggest determining factor in the third running back spot will likely be special teams contributions. All three have been working on special teams but Forsett seems to be making the most head way as a kickoff returner, as a specialist on the kickoff unit and as a punt protector.
“I think it adds value because the more you can do the more it’s always the best,” said Forsett, who has averaged 4.6 yards per carry and has 97 career receptions during his previous five NFL seasons all primarily with the Seahawks.”I just want to go out and show everything I can do.”
Forsett seems to possess all the Texans could want in a change of pace back who will likely get a few carries in every game and could become a big contributor should either Foster or Tate suffer an injury. He’s a veteran who has started games in the NFL and made plays for a championship contender. Last season the Seahawks used him primarily as a third down back but clearly Forsett believes he can contribute much more with the Texans if given the opportunity.
“I’ve picked up a lot of traits,” he said. “I’ve just got to find what my role is here and do the best I can with it.”