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What is the Texans' plan at running back behind David Johnson, Duke Johnson?

Texans Wire logo Texans Wire 8/15/2020 Mark Lane
a baseball player pitching a ball on a field: texans-plan-rb-david-duke-johnson © Courtesy — Houston Texans texans-plan-rb-david-duke-johnson
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The Houston Texans believe they have two three-down running backs in David Johnson and Duke Johnson.

What’s the plan after that?

According to coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, fullback Cullen Gillaspia, a 2019 seventh-round pick from Texas A&M who excelled at special teams as a rookie, is developing a larger role in the team’s offense.

“You’ve got guys like Cullen Gillaspia that’s kind of a guy that is a core special teams player but can do a lot of things from the backfield,” O’Brien said.

Gillaspia played all 16 games for Houston last season, recording six special teams tackles. In fact, the former 12th Man for the Aggies played 274 special teams snaps compared to just 13 snaps on offense.

The Texans haven’t exactly been a fullback heavy team under O’Brien. Jay Prosch, who played from 2014-17, tallied 16 touches for 103 yards in his four seasons with the club.

Karan Higdon, who returns after his rookie season as an undrafted free agent from Michigan, is battling with practice-squadder Buddy Howell for an opening on the final roster. The Texans are expected to carry three running backs as they did last season with Taiwan Jones playing the role of special teams ace.

While O’Brien has acknowledged 2020 will be a difficult season for rookies and younger players to make rosters, undrafted running back Scottie Phillips from Ole Miss managed to get mentioned as it related to the running back depth.

“You’ve got Scottie Phillips out there, an undrafted guy who’s gotten better and better every day,” O’Brien said. “So in some ways it’s very competitive relative to the 53.”

The Texans know who their front line starters are in David Johnson and Duke Johnson. The depth behind the two running backs is a position battle that will work itself out as the extended training camp rolls on through the rest of August.

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