Andre Ellington signed with the Houston Texans less than two weeks ago. On Sunday in Nashville, the running back was active for his first game for the Texans in a divisional rematch with the Tennessee Titans.
Ellington likely expected to relieve Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue in the run game, but mounting injuries thrust the fifth-year veteran back in a different role altogether.
"We just signed Andre Ellington as a running back," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He had to play slot receiver for us. So on every single play, Tom had to get him lined up and basically help him with what to do. He had never done any of that. He was playing in the backfield all week."
Bruce Ellington and Braxton Miller left the game with injuries and did not return, leaving DeAndre Hopkins and Chris Thompson at wide receiver. Ellington stepped in, with on-the-job instructions from Savage and Hopkins, and caught five passes for 56 yards, averaging 11.2 yards per catch.
"Andre did a good job coming in this week and making some plays for us and not really knowing the offense that well," Hopkins said.
On third-and-9, Ellington even recorded a 29-yard gain on a deep pass in the first quarter. He became an NFL-high third running back for Houston, in addition to teammates Lamar Miller and D'Onta Foreman, to record a reception of 25-or-more yards this season.
"Yeah it was just a weird game," Savage said. "I've never been a part of something like that with that many guys out and those guys (Ellington and Thompson) really stepped up and did a great job for us."
The Texans fell 24-13 to the Titans are now 4-8 on the season following back-to-back road games. Houston returns to NRG Stadium to host the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14.
The Texans faced AFC South rival Tennessee in Nashville in Week 13.