The Texans lost starting running back Lamar Miller for the season to a torn ACL last weekend, so they are early in the process of figuring out how their backfield will wind up looking when they are in New Orleans on the first Monday night of the regular season.
On Monday, head coach Bill O’Brien said that he thinks the team is in a “good situation” at the position despite Miller’s loss and cited the trade for Duke Johnson as a leading reason for that opinion. The Browns made heavy use of Johnson as a receiver the last four years, but O’Brien said he’s confident that Johnson can take on a bigger role.
“I wouldn’t call him a third-down back,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I know that he is a substituted back, so in the past he’s played a lot against sub defenses, but you can see sub defenses on first, second or third downs. I think with us he’ll be used in a lot of different ways, and he’s had a lot of snaps. He’s been out there playing a lot. . . . I don’t think it’ll be him exclusively. We’ve got a lot of other guys at that position that we can mix and match with.”
Buddy Howell, Taiwan Jones, Cullen Gillaspia, Karan Higdon and Damarea Crockett are the other backs on hand, but O’Brien said “anything can happen” in terms of tweaking that group to ensure he continues to feel good about life without Miller in the backfield.