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Houston Texans Training Camp Battles: Running Backs

A look into the Houston Texans running back situation.

Florida v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Houston Texans will be going into training camp with Marlon Mack, Dameon Pierce, Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale, Darius Anderson and Royce Freeman as their running backs.

The Texans are more determined to run the ball than ever in 2022. The addition of fullback Andy Janovich, who could have a significant role in Houston, is one of the ways that new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton will try and revive the Texans rushing attack.

The Texans signed Mack this offseason and he has the best chance to be the week one starter due to his experience in the league and multiple productive seasons that include rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2019. Mack is also only 26 years old and may have his best football in front of him. Mack suffered a torn Achilles in 2020 but has had plenty of time to recover and regain his strength.

Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton had this to say about Mack:

“I think Marlon is a proven commodity in this league, and it’ll be good to see him in training camp and get football pads back on. Continue to see him develop and do things well.”

Dameon Pierce was the Texans fourth-round pick in this year’s draft and he has the potential to become the Texans starting running back sooner rather than later. Pierce is a different type of runner than Mack. Pierce is a more physical type of player that will initiate contact and fight for those extra yards. Pierce was a serious red zone threat throughout his college career scoring 28 total touchdowns. Pierce could have an incredible camp and earn the starting job week one, but it is more likely that Pierce could become the starter with time and more experience as an NFL rusher.

Rex Burkhead was re-signed to a one year deal this offseason and was the Texans leading rusher with only 427 yards. Burkhead will likely not be the starting running back in 2022 but could still provide a spark at times and add veteran leadership, which will be greatly needed on a young Texans offense.

Darius Anderson and Royce Freeman will have an uphill battle to make the roster but both players are young, and you never know what could happen during training camp. Freeman had some opportunities in 2021 and made a few nice plays. Anderson, who they call “Jet” is going into his second year into the NFL and was a solid player at TCU. If he can show up during training camp, he could be added to the practice squad and if he continues to progress, possibly get his first opportunity during the regular season.

Dare Ogunbowale is the only running back on the roster besides newly drafted Dameon Pierce that is under contract past the 2022 season. Ogunbowale was signed this offseason to a two-year deal and will likely help out on special teams and may even see some playing time as the season progresses.

Training camp and pre-season will be huge to determine which running back will get first-team snaps. The Texans “RB1” spot is up for grabs, and it is something to keep your eye on. Regardless of who will be the lead guy for Houston week one, multiple players will have the opportunity for significant playing time as the season progresses.