For Texans’ young running backs, opportunity knocks

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When the Texans play their final game in a lost season on Sunday at Tennessee, they could again have a new starter at running back.

With rookie Dennis Johnson battling a knee injury, the Texans could turn to second-year pro Jonathan Grimes, whom they signed nine days ago.

On Thursday, coach Wade Phillips expressed some concern as to whether Johnson would be able to play. If Johnson can’t go, this would leave Grimes and rookies Ray Graham and Toben Opurum as the Texans’ backs.

For Grimes, Graham and Opurum, this could be an opportunity to show both the Texans and other NFL teams what they can do. There are no meaningless games for players trying to work their way up in the league, and any good plays they can put on film will be helpful as they vie to make rosters in 2014.

The 24-year-old Grimes, whom Phillips tabbed as the Week 17 starter on Tuesday, has appeared in 10 NFL regular-season games and has had stints with the Jaguars and Jets in addition to Houston. He carried five times for 23 yards against Denver last week.

The Texans began the season with Arian Foster as the starter, but he suffered a season-ending back injury. Ben Tate, who replaced Foster, is out for the season with injured ribs. The Texans started Johnson in the Week 16 loss to the Broncos.