HOUSTON -- When the Houston Texans drafted running back D’Onta Foreman in the third round a year ago, they were hoping they could build a strong one-two punch with Lamar Miller, who was coming off a solid first season in Houston.
Instead, Miller averaged a career-worst 3.7 yards per carry and finished with 35 fewer touches despite playing in two more games than he did in 2016. Foreman saw more playing time as the season went on and showed improvement before he tore his Achilles in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals. Foreman had surgery in late November and is expected to be ready for the 2018 season.
This season will be a big one for the Texans’ two running backs. Miller may have one more chance to impress, while Foreman can build off his rookie year to further establish himself as a lead back. Last season, Foreman had 78 carries for 327 yards and two touchdowns.
Foreman impressed throughout the season before his injury, proving to be a strong power runner, which could provide the Texans a great option to go alongside mobile quarterback Deshaun Watson and could allow Miller to focus on passing downs. If Foreman is healthy in 2018, he could further dip into Miller’s workload and cement himself as the Texans’ top back.
The Texans could part ways with Miller two years into the four-year contract they signed him to before the 2016 season, but given his track record and the team’s impressive $64 million in cap space, it may be worth giving Miller another chance. If he doesn’t replicate the form he showed in Miami -- and Foreman takes another step forward -- Miller may not be with the Texans after 2018.
Behind Miller and Foreman last season was Alfred Blue, who has proved to be a solid rusher when given a chance. Blue is a free agent, but given his effectiveness, familiarity with the offense and Foreman’s Achilles injury, the Texans could bring him back to provide valuable depth in the backfield.
The 2018 season will be big for the Texans' offense, mostly because of Watson’s comeback from a torn ACL. But it will also be a chance for others around him to establish their roles in what could be one of the NFL’s most explosive units. Houston could dip into the free-agent pool of running backs, but between Miller, Foreman and Blue, the Texans have three familiar options who should be enough to provide a solid rushing attack during the upcoming season.