The Houston Texans added a new running back this week, who could make his debut as early as Week 11 against the Washington Commanders. The Texans signed RB Eno Benjamin off waivers on Tuesday after he was released by the Arizona Cardinals.
Benjamin, a 2020 seventh-round NFL Draft pick for Arizona, was in the team facility but did not practice with the Texans on Wednesday.
"No, he'll be out there tomorrow," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "As far as improving our roster, whenever we have a chance, we're constantly looking to improve our roster. When players become available that we think that can help us, and that's the case with Eno (Benjamin) – go back all the way to high school, recruited him then. I think he's started a few games for the Cardinals this year. Good football player added to the mix."
With just two days of practice before facing the Commanders, Benjamin's playing status is still uncertain for Sunday. Smith said the team will give him time to get adjusted before making a decision.
"We have to keep moving on like he's not going to play," Smith said. "Since we're bringing a new player into the mix, we played a lot of games when he wasn't a part of the team, so we're moving on like he is not and will not (play). We're going to give him a little bit of time, at least get in the building and then we'll see."
Benjamin played three seasons (2017-19) at Arizona State, where he finished seventh on the school's all-time rushing list and earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors after rushing for a school single-season record 1,642 yards and 16 TDs on a school-record 300 attempts (5.5 avg.) in 2018.
While new to the Texans, Benjamin has some familiarity with Smith as a high school recruit.
"He was on our recruiting list and we had a little bit of a conversation as I recall," Smith said. "The older I get in these years, I kind of forget an awful lot but I haven't forgotten that much about him. He was a good player in high school, good player in college, has been a good pro, and we're hoping him gives us something."
Benjamin averaged 4.3 yards per carry during this season for the Cardinals. He recorded 70 carries for 299 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns in 10 games. Benjamin started three games while Cardinals RB James Conner was injured. In Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints, Benjamin set career-highs for scrimmage yards (113), rushing yards (92), scored his third career touchdown and broke the longest run of his career (45 yards).
The Texans typically keep three running backs active during gameday. With Dameon Pierce as the starter, both Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale have been active. Ogunbowale, who also plays special teams, did not practice on Wednesday.
"We're going to have a starting tailback and we're going to have a backup," Smith said. "If the backup has to play, we don't want a big drop off as much as anything. Our third running back is going to a guy that's going to hopefully be able to, maybe his emphasis is on third down and special teams. The running back position has been like that for me in my entire career."
The Texans will host the Washington Commanders on Sunday. Kickoff is set for noon CT on FOX-26 and SportsRadio 610. Browse tickets.