Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) runs with the ball as Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson (53) and linebacker Trent Cole defend during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron
Darron Cummings
December 14, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) The big news of Houston's offseason was the signing of quarterback Brock Osweiler.

But as the Texans make a final push to win their second straight AFC South title, their most important offseason acquisition has proven to be Lamar Miller, whose work has kept the offense afloat despite Osweiler's struggles.

Miller ran for 107 yards and a touchdown to help Houston beat Indianapolis last week and give him 1,000 yards rushing for the second time in his career.

He needs just 90 yards rushing against Jacksonville on Sunday to eclipse his career high of 1,099 yards he set in 2014 with the Dolphins.

''He's been great,'' left tackle Duane Brown said. ''I'm happy to be a part of it ... he runs so hard. I'm glad he's on our team and I'm looking forward to racking up a few more yards in the next few weeks.''

The 25-year-old Miller signed a four-year, $26 million contract with the Texans this offseason after spending his first four seasons with the Dolphins.

He had some good seasons for Miami, piling up 2,930 yards in his time there.

But his carries were somewhat limited and some wondered if he'd be able to handle a bigger load in Houston.

Those fears turned out to be unfounded as Miller had 28 carries in Houston's opener and had more than 20 carries in each of the next two games. He surpassed his previous career high of 196 carries two weeks ago, and ranks sixth in the NFL with 246 carries.

Miller never doubted that he was capable of carrying a bigger load.

''I always have confidence in myself,'' he said. ''I've been playing running back my whole life so of course I feel like I can carry the load. So that's part of the reason I came here, just so I could get that workload and help this team win.''

Houston was in need of a featured back after it cut ties with franchise leading rusher Arian Foster in March after a season where he played just four games before suffering a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

Miller has run for at least 100 yards in a career-high four games this season and his 1,010 yards rushing rank sixth in the NFL.

He's continued to be productive and hasn't missed a game this season despite dealing with injuries to his ribs, shoulder and ankle.

''He's a very tough guy ... he's got a very workmanlike approach to his job,'' coach Bill O'Brien said.

''He's attentive in meetings. He rarely makes a mistake out on the field. Very dependable player. A guy that plays when he's banged up. Plays when he probably doesn't really feel like playing or practicing. That's the mark of a really good pro and he's brought a lot to our team.''

While Houston's passing game ranks 30th in the NFL by averaging just 190 yards a game, Miller's work has given the Texans one of the best rushing games in the league.

Houston averages 126.1 yards rushing a game, which is fifth in the NFL. Miller and the Texans take pride in their ability to run the ball in an era where so much emphasis is placed on winning games through the air.

''That's our mentality - smash-mouth football,'' Miller said. ''We have the offensive line to do it and we have the running backs to do it as well so we just try to go out there and just keep the chain moving any way possible.''

Miller is also quick to give the offensive line credit for a lot of his success and promised he has something special planned for the big guys at the end of the season.

''It's a secret right now, but I'm going to do a little something,'' he said. ''I'll tell you later.''

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