When the Houston Texans kicked off their 2019 training camp on July 25, neither Carlos Hyde nor Duke Johnson were on the roster. As Texans, both running backs will play in their first career playoff game when Houston hosts the Buffalo Bills in Saturday's AFC Wild Card game.
Hyde has rushed for 1,070 yards in his first 1,000-yard rushing season, scoring six rushing touchdowns through 16 games in 2019. When he first arrived in Houston, the sixth-year veteran running back admitted he had a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. That hasn't changed.
"That chip is still the same size," Hyde said. "It's the same chip I told you I had on my shoulder when I first got here. It's still business I've got to finish, still more games to play. Still grinding, still hungry, still got a lot to prove."
A 2014 second-round draft pick by the 49ers, Hyde spent five seasons in San Francisco and split the 2018 season between with Cleveland and Jacksonville. Hyde signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in March but was traded to Houston on August 31.
"He's worked hard since the day he got here," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's got a good running style, he's smart, he's able to learn. I like the way he runs, he gets behind his pads, he's got good vision and he's learned well. He was able to come in here and learn our offense right away. He put his mind to it and he picked up things right away. It was similar to what he had done in the past in other offenses, so it was something that he could get in there and contribute right away. He's meant a lot to our team this year."
Johnson, traded from the Cleveland Browns on August 8, has averaged 9.3 yards per catch and 4.9 yards per carry through 16 games this season. The fifth-year running back has scored five touchdowns (two rushing, three receiving) and recorded 820 yards from scrimmage, including a single-season career-high 410 yards rushing.
Versatility is arguably Johnson's biggest asset, allowing the Texans to line him up in different spots on offense.
"Duke's done a good job," O'Brien said. "Duke's a smart guy, Duke's a good route runner out of the backfield, but a good runner too, a good runner from the backfield. He's done a lot of good things for us. Really smart. Was able to come in here and pick up the offense and help us this year, no doubt about it."
Johnson, a third-round draft pick in 2015, played in every single game of his four-year career with the Cleveland Browns before Houston traded for him on August 8.
With Hyde and Johnson in the lineup, the Texans ground game ranked fifth in the AFC, averaging 125.6 yards per game and fourth in rushing yards per play (4.63) in 2019.
The Texans will host the Bills in Saturday's AFC Wild Card game. Kickoff is set for 3:35 p.m. CT on ABC-13/ESPN/SportsRadio 610.