CBS Houston – The Houston Texans are only one game into the preseason, but so far it looks like the signing of Lamar Miller will turn out to be a major win for the team.
Sunday the Texans were able to push past the San Francisco 49ers 24-13. The win came because the second team offense scored 14 points in the final half of the game.
The first team offense did not look very good as new quarterback Brock Osweiler had a hard time getting the first unit into gear. One of the lone bright spots on the first team was another new addition in Miller their high priced free agent offseason acquisition.
In only four carries he rushed for 30 yards, showcasing plenty of moves and speed.
While it was just a small sampling of what Miller will bring to the Texans, it was a good sight to see.
Coming from the Miami Dolphins where he was often underutilized, he will be Texans bell cow and with the team still working Osweiler in, he’s likely to see a ton of touches to help take some pressure off the new quarterback.
“He’s a good back,” head coach Bill O’Brien said of Miller’s game after the team’s win on Sunday, “he’s got good vision and he understands all the different runs that we have.”
O’Brien made mention that offensively on Sunday he kept things pretty close to the vest, not wanting to show to much. While the offense was pretty vanilla, again Miller was one of the few to show out, breaking through arm tackles and running past people like they were standing still.
On the first play of the game Sunday, Miller bounced to the outside for a 14 yard gain. While he’d only get three more carriers it was clear the coaching staff saw all they needed to from him.
While Miller did plenty in his limited action Sunday, another back managed to make the most out of his opportunity.
Second-year running back Kenny Hilliard took the ball 40 yards on 12 carries. It wasn’t eyeing popping but with rookie Tyler Ervin and fellow second-year back Akeem Hunt also getting a few touches, Hilliard was the guy the giving the Texans production.
“That position is very competitive,” O’Brien said of the running back group, “that’s going to be a tough decision for us when we figure out how many we want to keep.”
Right now the only lock to make the team is Miller.
Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes, Ervin, Hunt, and Hillard are all fighting for the last few spots.
History says the team will keep four backs, so someone will end up being the odd man out.
Right now Blue is slowed in camp with a shoulder injury and did not play in Sunday’s game nor suit up for practice on Tuesday.
Hillard has stepped up in Blue’s absence and it’s not going unnoticed.
“(Hillard) had a lot of opportunities in the game (Sunday) and I thought he ran well,” O’Brien said.
There is no word yet on how long Blue will be out, but as a change of pace back, Hillard looks good in his stead.
The Texans have a lot of guys with speed; Miller, Ervin, and Hunt all can light up the radar gun. Grimes gives the team a little bit of everything, he can run, catch the ball out of the backfield and block. But the team needs a power back, Blue has been that guy, but Hillard has been getting the carries of late.
Coming into training camp, Hillard dropped about 15 pounds going from 237 pounds to now 223 pounds. So not only does he have a little more power than some of the smaller backs, but he’s also now a little quicker.
The Texans have a true number one in Miller, but the rest of the running back core is pretty solid. O’Brien likes to run a game plan type of offense and with his current stable of backs, he has a lot of different ways he can use all of their dynamic skills.