Since being named head coach, Lovie Smith has had a run-first vision for the Houston Texans offense. After seeing his team wrap up training camp and the preseason, he says the identity of the Texans offense is very close.
"Absolutely," Smith said. "We want to be a tough football team that loves to run the football and I think that's what we have been trying to establish throughout the preseason. That should open up things. And by saying that, that doesn't mean we don't want to be a good passing team. Our practices we have nine-on-seven, where the defense knows the offense is running the ball and they need to do something about it. Yes, we want that to be our personnel."
The Texans were last in the NFL last year, averaging just 83.6 yards rushing per game. Through the preseason, the ground game has steadily improved each week. In Thursday night's 17-0 preseason win against the San Francisco 49ers, Houston finished with 156 net yards rushing and a rushing touchdown by rookie RB Dameon Pierce on the opening offensive series.
Smith "absolutely" liked what he saw from the run game in the preseason finale.
"Pro-I leads, maybe one of my favorite plays last night," Smith said. "It's a lead with Troy (Hairston) leading as the fullback and Dameon (Pierce) carried the ball for nine yards. One of my favorite plays from the game."
Smith has stated he wants to keep a fullback on the roster to help run the ball effectively. Houston currently has two on its 80-man roster, Paul Quessenberry and Hairston, the former Central Michigan linebacker who switched to fullback this offseason. Houston's commitment to improving the ground game included drafting an interior offensive lineman in Kenyon Green with the 15th overall pick and selecting RB Dameon Pierce in the fourth round. Houston also signed veteran guard A.J. Cann and RB Marlon Mack in free agency.
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