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Will Dameon Pierce Buck the Trend?

How high can the second year back fly?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Over at ESPN, Bill Barnwell recently released a piece on the falling value of starting running backs in the NFL. The article cites the current crop of unsigned “star” NFL running backs who are currently couch-riding into the training camp season.

ESPN.com

Something feels wrong about what’s happening for running backs in the NFL. As teams approach training camp later this month, four respected veteran rushers remain free agents, seemingly with little interest. Kareem Hunt wasn’t re-signed by the Cleveland Browns after his contract expired, while Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook were released by their respective franchises to create salary cap space. None of the four has signed elsewhere.

Now, Elliot and Fournette aren’t exactly star tailback material in 2023. Elliot’s productivity has dropped like a rock over the last few seasons and Fournette really never was mentionable in the conversations of perennial Pro Bowl running backs. As for Hunt and Cook, well, odds are they will be the first back in the game when a team needs a workhorse tailback after injuries and cuts start to accumulate.

Overall, as he always does, Barnwell does a great job with this piece. He lays out the history of the phenomenon of RB1s falling from favor in a pass happy NFL. It’s a good read if you have time to kill.

But it begs the question: For a team like the Houston Texans, is the bell cow Dameon Pierce poised to buck this trend?

Houston signed Devin Singletary in the offseason, presumably to offer the “2” of the 1-2 punch running game.

The ground attack was the only decent thing from last season, which means it should be a step ahead of the passing game this year.

Pierce is a year older, wiser and more experienced. His rookie season ended on a ticky-tacky IR move that some believe was simply a player stash to preserve him for the future.

With the new look Texans offense trying to establish itself, a rookie quarterback who will need confidence-building plays, and what seems to be a vastly improved offensive line, 2023 just might be the year of Pierce.