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RB trio vying for time Sunday vs. Colts

Posted Oct 30, 2013

Deji Karim, Dennis Johnson and Ray Graham are battling for carries.

No matter what, there will be at least one new face at the running back position in Week 9 for the Texans.

Starter Arian Foster and backup Ben Tate are both injured, and their status for Sunday night's game against Indianapolis will likely be an "end of the week decision".

On Monday, the team signed Ray Graham, Deji Karim and Dennis Johnson to the 53-man roster. Each was with the team during OTA's and training camp. Rookie Cierre Wood beat out the trio for the final running back position at the end of August, but was waived last week.

As of Wednesday afternoon, head coach Gary Kubiak said that including Foster and Tate, any of the five could suit up against the Colts.

"It’ll be a tough decision, but there will definitely be three of them with a uniform on," Kubiak said. "I can tell you that.”

Regardless of who plays, quarterback Case Keenum is happy that the depth chart has been bolstered. The Texans were forced at various points against Kansas City to hand off to fullback Greg Jones, or the hobbled Tate.

"I think it will take the pressure off guys of trying to push themselves a little too far," Keenum said. "I feel confident in all of those guys and I think they’re going to do a great job."

Even though none of them have taken snaps in a regular season game this year with the Texans, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is confident in the abilities of Graham, Johnson and Karim.

"After Monday and today, I think they have a lot of recall for what we do," Dennison said. "I feel pretty good about putting them in there and understanding what we got done.”

Karim is a fourth-year pro who was with the Colts last season, and that's a bonus in the eyes of Kubiak.

"I think Deji Karim has a little bit more experience than the other two obviously and he can kick return for us," Kubiak said.

Even though he's longer on NFL experience than Graham and Johnson, Karim is shorter on recent reps with a team. The other two have each been practicing for the last month, and Karim shared his biggest challenge.

“Football shape, I guess," Karim said. "You can work out and do everything you want in your off time, but, at the same time, football reps are just different than running outside by yourself. So football shape is different.”

Johnson, meanwhile, was signed from the Cleveland practice squad, and has been impressive in his Monday and Wednesday work in Houston.

"I think DJ has come back, he’s in very good shape," Kubiak said. "He looks just like he did when he left. He’s caught up very quickly."

Graham was elevated from the Texans' practice squad, and Kubiak said he's done "well" in the work during the week this season.


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