Jonathan Grimes is making some big plays in training camp.
On the first play of Tuesday's practice, the 24-year-old running back scored on a touchdown run. With Arian Foster out, all the running backs are earning more reps. Grimes, who just returned from a hamstring injury, is no exception. Head coach Bill O'Brien likes what he sees in the third-year back.
"I see Jonathan as a three-down back," O'Brien said. "I do. I see him as able to play on third down, catch the ball out of the backfield, protect. He's a smart, dependable guy when he is in there. So yeah, I see him as a three-down back."
Grimes could earn the starting role in Saturday's preseason game at Arizona. It's quite an accomplishment from spending nearly all of 2013 waiting for a team to call him. The wait was, at times, excruciating.
"I was thinking, 'Alright, I'm going to get picked up any minute,'"Grimes said.
Grimes kept receiving encouragement from his parents, especially his dad who kept tabs on all the NFL team rosters to see where his son might be needed. Grimes continued to train and work out, never losing hope that he would soon return to the NFL.
Then one day in December, Grimes received a phone call from the Texans and signed on for the final two games of 2013. In the season finale against the Titans, Grimes scored his first regular-season NFL touchdown against the Titans and kept the ball as a memento for his dad.
It's a now a new coaching staff and a new season, but Grimes hopes to build on what he started late last season with the Texans. His path in the NFL is not what he envisioned for himself, from a four-year starter and all-time leading rusher at William & Mary to an undrafted free agent bouncing around between three teams in his first two years in the NFL.
Still, he's turning heads at camp.
"He's a hardworking kid," O'Brien said. "He hurt his hamstring at the end of the summer. It's good to have him back in there. He's smart and it is good to have him back in the competition at running back."
Grimes doesn't yet know how many snaps he will get against the Cardinals this Saturday. However big or small his role may be, Grimes is aiming for a clean game with no mental mistakes. After all, he knows what's at stake.
"I definitely appreciate being on a team because I saw the other side of it, not being on a team, watching games on Sunday," Grimes said.