There are a few new faces at running back for the Houston Texans. One is very familiar.
Marlon Mack, who spent the first five years of his career with the Colts, signed with the Texans this offseason in free agency. He faced the Texans in five regular season games with Indianapolis, and punished Houston in a Colts' 2018 Wild Card victory by rumbling for 148 yards on 24 carries. With a 4.4 yards per carry career average, the veteran joins Rex Burkhead in the rotation as the duo with the most NFL experience. Between the two, they've combined to play 14 seasons, run for 37 scores and gain 4,312 yards on the ground.
The other four backs in the mix—Dare Ogunbowale, Royce Freeman, Darius Anderson and 2022 fourth-round pick Dameon Pierce—have a combined 1,635 rushing yards and 11 scores on the ground. They're all getting plenty of work through the first two weeks of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
For Head Coach Lovie Smith, he's encouraged by what Mack did in 2018 and 2019. In that 2-year span, he finished just a yard shy of 2,000, and found the end zone 17 times.
"Marlon has been a productive player in the league and we look at his best years he's had," Smith said after Wednesday's OTA. "Sometimes you need a change, change of scenery, a new team."
Burkhead has liked what he's seen from Mack as well.
"Marlon is a hard worker, great guy, pleasure to be playing with him," Burkhead said. "I've watched him from another team the past few years, and so it's great to have him back there. He comes out, works hard, doesn't say much, gets the job done in the meeting room and out on the field."
Mack tore an Achilles in the 2020 regular season opener, and appeared in six contests in 2021. His transition to an AFC South rival has been smooth, according to Smith.
"I know he's fit in well with our group," Smith said. "We feel like we have a plan for him and we like the running back position, not just him."
The Texans will continue with OTAs this week at the Houston Methodist Training Center, and continue into their third week of work on Monday.