Houston (CBS Houston) – One of the most entertaining and attention grabbing storylines in every training camp is the battle to make the team. For the Texans, one position group that looks to be an open competition is at running back.
Last year the Texans kept four running backs and fullback Jay Prosch, and while still unclear, it again looks like the Texans will keep four running backs on the 53-man roster when camp closes.
Two of the four spots look to be locks. Lamar Miller signed a 4-year $26 million deal with the Texans in the offseason, and is the most accomplished of the group. Tyler Ervin, the least accomplished of the group, also looks to be a lock after the Texans used a fourth rounder on him during the NFL draft. Ervin also looks to be the leader for the kick and punt returner jobs at the moment.
That would leave four players fighting for the final two spots. Last year’s leading rusher, Alfred Blue, third down specialist Jonathan Grimes, 23-year-old Akeem Hunt and Kenny Hilliard.
Blue, 25-years-old, enters his third season in the NFL after being a sixth round pick in 2014. Blue, who returned to practice Monday after missing time with a shoulder injury, has rushed for 1,226 yards and four touchdowns in his first two seasons.
Grimes, 26-years-old, is a guy that’s tough to get rid of because of the versatility that he brings. He’s a solid back, who has good hands and has proven his worth as a target out of the backfield with 26 receptions last year.
Hunt, 23-years-old, enters his second season in the NFL after being an undrafted free agent out of Purdue in 2015. Hunt impressed on the practice squad enough that he made it to the roster, and appeared in seven games. Hunt isn’t as polished as Grimes, but is a back that many feel can be used on third down situations.
Hilliard, 24-years-old, also enters his second season in the NFL, but was drafted by the Texans last year in the seventh round. Hilliard spent last season on the practice squad and has been getting rave reviews about getting in great shape for training camp.
Blue and Hilliard look to have the same style, while Grimes and Hunt look to have the similar styles. The Texans will have some tough decisions to make, but for now head coach Bill O’Brien feels it’s important to give the running backs a look in situations that can help the team.
“We try to put them in the position of where we may play them, if they were going to make the team, during the season then go from there,” O’Brien said. “Then the play dictates. The read of the play, the play itself, the defense dictates whether they get the ball or not, but that’s kind of how we do it.”