Texans' Dameon Pierce sets goal of 1,000 rushing yards

HOUSTON -- After falling 61 yards short last season, Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce has set a goal to rush for 1,000 yards this season.

"The expectation is to cap 1,000 yards. ... That's a goal I have for myself," Pierce said. "That's what I expect from me. [Bobby] Slowik expects that. Everybody around me expects that, and I'm going to try everything in my power to get that."

In 2022, Pierce was a bright spot on a struggling offense that tied for 30th in points per game (17). He ranked toward the top of the NFL in a few categories before he suffered an ankle injury in Week 13 against the Dallas Cowboys, ending his rookie season.

Before the injury, he was seventh in rushing (939), 16th in scrimmage yards (1,104), second in broken tackles (27) and fourth in rushing yards after contact (506).

First-year coach DeMeco Ryans acknowledged how vital Pierce is to the offense.

"For us to be a good offense, we have to have Dameon at his A-game," Ryans said. "Dameon has been having a great offseason from OTAs to even now. He looks great and in shape. Every time he touches the ball, you see the speed, you see the physicality."

For Pierce to flourish, Ryans said the offensive line "has to be on their A-game."

The Texans have invested in the offensive line. In March, they extended left tackle Laremy Tunsil with a three-year, $75 million contract, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. They then signed right guard Shaq Mason to a three-year, $36 million extension in May. Before training camp, right tackle Tytus Howard received a three-year, $56 million extension that includes $36.5 million guaranteed.

As long as Pierce stays healthy, the offensive line believes he'll show the league he's one of the best backs in the NFL.

"We love Dameon, man. He's the most energetic guy on the team," Howard said. "We love blocking for him. We know that all we got to do is get our hats on guys, and he going to handle the rest. ... He's one of those backs that can do it all. So we're hoping to get him to be one of the best running backs in the league, and we know he can do that."