Duke Johnson Jr.’s first week as a Houston Texan has been all about the mental side of things.
The running back, who was traded from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a conditional 2020 draft pick last Friday, hasn’t practiced yet with his new teammates, and won’t play against the Lions on Saturday night at NRG Stadium.
But according to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, he’s making the most of his time.
“It's just coming in and learning the ins and outs of the offense,” Kelly said. “He's a pro, he's a smart guy, he comes to work every day and he's definitely started that process.”
Since entering the NFL in 2015 as a third-rounder out of Miami (FL), Johnson’s led the League in receiving yards by a running back (2,170), and has played in 64 games. He’s averaged 9.2 yards per catch, and 4.3 yards per carry.
Head coach Bill O’Brien is excited about what Johnson adds to the Texans offense.
“Duke's a first-, second-, third-down running back, he's played on special teams,” O’Brien said. “Good in the running game, good in the passing game, good professional. Really excited to have him on board and just really look forward to working with him.”
Johnson succeeded Miller at the University of Miami, playing there from 2012-14, after Miller was there in 2010 and 2011. Getting that tandem together on the same team has running backs coach Danny Barrett optimistic about the future of the offense.
“Lamar has shown that he is a physical runner with bursts of speed, but Duke, elusive, good pass catcher out of the backfield,” Barrett said. “So, I think the combination should be good. Again, just looking forward to having them both healthy at the same time as we move forward, and once we reach that point then I think the sky is the limit as far as what the potential is that we can get out of both of those guys."
O’Brien said the team has a “vision” for how they want to take advantage of Johnson’s skillset.
The Texans will practice with Detroit on Wednesday and Thursday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
Check out the best preseason Week 1 images from Texans team photographer Zach Tarrant. Presented by Houston Methodist.