Ball security is job security.
Those were Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton's words Thursday morning after practice. During his breakout 80-yard rushing performance that included his first career touchdown, rookie RB Dameon Pierce also fumbled twice in Sunday's game at Chicago. Although both fumbles were recovered by Houston, Pierce's second one was inside the Texans' ten-yard line.
"We don't want anything to get in the way of him being an instinctual runner moving forward," Hamilton said. "It's just something fundamentally that he'll be aware of. Scars are reminders."
Pierce, a fourth-round draft pick out of Florida, has been electric in his three starts. Part of what makes the 22-year-old back so effective is his ability to make defenders miss. According to Pro Football Focus, Pierce is tied for seventh in the NFL with 10 forced missed tackles on runs and has racked up 162 rushing yards after contact.
After that second fumble, Pierce remained on the sidelines for the rest of the game. Those scars are reminders for Pierce, who was laser-focused on securing the ball during practice this week .
"If there's one thing that he did once we got on the practice field yesterday for the first time since that game on Sunday, he was very conscious of ball positioning, double-arm wrapping the ball in traffic, just securing the football," Hamilton said. "At the same time, we don't want that to slow him down. We want him to be able to run hard, run smart, but protect the football at the same time."
In Week 3 against the Bears, Pierce finished with a career-high 22 touches, 101 scrimmage yds and one rushing touchdown. He currently leads all NFL rookies with 46 carries, 182 rush yds, 1 rushing touchdown (tied for first) in 2022.
Pierce and the Texans will host the (1-2) Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4. Sunday's kickoff from NRG Stadium is set for noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.