With the number of injuries on offense growing, the Texans are running out of targets.
"Well, let's see, we're down to our fifth running and our third tight end," interim head coach Wade Phillips said Thursday. "Yes, I'm worried about it. I know injuries are a part of the game, but, at this time of year, we'd like to have more people healthy, but we don't. So we're going to go with it."
This week the Texans signed rookies Ray Graham and Toben Opurum to the active roster. Graham competed for a roster spot in training camp and had been on the Texans practice squad. Opurum, 6-foot-1 and 250, was signed to the active roster from the Kansas City practice squad.
Johnathan Grimes is expected to be the starting running back for Sunday's game at Tennessee after being signed on December 18. Grimes may start over Dennis Johnson who is listed as questionable after missing practice with a hip injury. Grimes logged his first carries this season last week against Denver when he came in for Deji Karim and Johnson in the fourth quarter. He had five carries for 23 yards.
"Every week, you have a week for a game and, like I said, every week, you prepare like a starter," Grimes said. "It's not much different for me mentally."
Karim is the latest to be added to the list of season-ending injured reserve players, joining starters Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The Texans will try to finish out the season with a combination of rookies on Sunday.
"We really try to teach everything in concepts and the guys that we have at running back have been around for a training camp," offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. "We try not to change too much or be too extravagant, obviously with formations and what not for those guys to get them in a spot where they'd be really uncomfortable. But we're helping them along and coaches are doing a good job making sure that they understand what they're supposed to do."
Tight end depth has also been an ongoing concern with Owen Daniels unable to practice after being placed on IR with designation to return on October 9. Garrett Graham has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, leaving rookie Ryan Griffin as the lone tight end.
"He did not practice and I don't expect him to play," Phillips said of Graham's status on Thursday. "He hasn't played in several games and he seems to be the same as he's been."
Meanwhile, Griffin has stepped up in the past two games, catching the ball the last eleven times he has been targeted.
"Ryan is taking advantage of the situation that's presented itself," Dennison said. "I'll tell him that. He's certainly has done a good job and that's something to be said. Some guys, if you give them an opportunity, they don't respond. Ryan has and I think that's a part of his training. There was a period where he struggled a little bit earlier in the year and he just kept grinding at it. He's done a good job."
Fullback Brad Smelley was added to the active roster this month to give the Texans another options but the tight end-turned fullback has also been dealing with a calf injury that has kept him out of practice.
The Texans have just one other option at tight end, Phillip Supernaw who was signed to the practice squad on December 18.