Houston Texans: Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman to be offensive focal points

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Lamar Miller
HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Lamar Miller /

As the Houston Texans focus on getting more physical, pressure builds on running backs Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman.

Lamar Miller is coming off a 1000-yard season and looks to be the critical starter among a full Houston Texans running back stable. Rookie third-round pick D’Onta Foreman could well be his primary backup, leading a crowded group that includes Akeem Hunt and Alfred Blue.

The top running backs are getting less attention than the quarterback situation where Tom Savage works to keep Deshaun Watson on the bench, but they will be the primary focus of the offense. For a team with an unknown at quarterback and a dominant defense, the running game is the perfect ball control solution.

Miller has proven he can get the job done in the past for the Texans and the Miami Dolphins. But he can’t do it alone. With little faith placed in the offensive line — including Duane Brown’s holdout — the running backs will have some tough sledding through the season. That means keeping legs fresh as much as possible for Miller who had a career-high 268 carries last year.

Entering his prime at age 26, Miller still has plenty of tread left on his tires. The Texans don’t want to run him into the ground too quickly, though. Some of those tougher runs inside the tackles may fall to Foreman. Foreman impressed head coach Bill O’Brien during his time at Texas, saying via the team’s official website:

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"He was an inside runner. He was a very productive inside runner that broke a lot of tackles for Texas this year. He was a productive first- and second-down, tackle-to-tackle runner and that was impressive to me."

Foreman already impressed with a touchdown run on the goal line to start Houston’s training camp. His tough running is exactly the kind of physicality the Texans need to grind down opponents and it is the perfect change of pace from Miller on offense.

Hunt and Blue should not be overlooked as genuine options for the running game, but they are looking less and less likely to steal carries from the top two backs on the depth chart. With Foreman and Miller splitting carries in a productive way, there is little reason for the Texans to turn to the third or fourth option on the team.

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Those following the Texans know how important this will be for the team in its quest to three-peat as AFC South champions. O’Brien will not be running with the hot hand at quarterback which may mean tough stretches of quarterback play as the team slogs it out with either Savage or Watson. The running game will become even more important if either of them struggles.

Fortunately, it looks like both Miller and Foreman will be up for the challenge.