Best Running Backs in Houston Texans History

Andrew Harner

Photo
Numerous standout running backs have worn the Texans helmet throughout their 18-season history.© Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Who Are the Greatest Texans Running Backs of All-Time?

Opposing teams often have to prepare for a high-powered rushing attack when facing the Texans. In 18 years of franchise history, Houston has seen a running back eclipse 900 yards in a campaign in 11 of those years, including nine seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher.

Selection Criteria for This List

The Texans haven't had many running backs with longevity, but several short-term rushers produced strong statistical lines. Many of the players featured on this list have tightly bunched accomplishments, but I was able to separate them and put together a list of the top five running backs ever to play for Houston. Also included is a handful of honorable-mention candidates, some Texans running back trivia and statistics from every 1,000-yard rushing season in team history. The criteria used to develop this list includes:

  • Single-Season Honors (MVP, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, etc.)
  • On-Field Success (league leader, playoff appearances, records, etc.)
  • Longevity (years with the Texans, percentage of career with the Texans, etc.)
  • Versatility (rushing ability, receiving ability, returning ability, etc.)

Only games played with the Texans are factored into this list, so while Ronnie Brown would be a great player to consider for a list about the Dolphins, his six yards over three games with Houston won't place him in the top five here. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on these selections in the comments.

5. Steve Slaton

  • Seasons With Texans: 200811

Steve Slaton did not start the first game of his career, but his role changed quickly after he outgained veteran Ahman Green in the season-opener against the Steelers. What followed were 15 straight starts of brilliance that resulted in the finest rookie season ever from a Texans running back. During that season, Slaton had a showing of 156 yards against the Colts to set a single-game rookie record (since tied by Alfred Blue). In that same game, he also had what was then the longest run in franchise history (71 yards). By seasons end, Slaton became the second Houston rookie ever to rush for 1,000 yards, and he established a new single-season rushing record for the Texans with 1,282 yards (now third). Additionally, he led rookie running backs in rushing yards that season.

Entering 2009 as the starter, Slaton had a rough start, dropping three fumbles over 26 carries in the first two games of the season. After several weeks of inconsistent performances, he lost a fumble in three straight games and was replaced by Ryan Moats. Slaton picked up two more starts, but his season ended with a shoulder injury. It was later discovered that a nerve issue in his neck was causing him to lose his grip on the football and fumble so much. He was essentially a non-factor in the offense in 2010, though he did play a key role as a kick returner, averaging 19.7 yards per return on 39 tries. After Arian Foster firmly established himself as the top rusher in Houston, Slaton was released with 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns on 425 carries and another 811 receiving yards.

Steve Slaton's Statistics With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD

2008

16

15

268

1282

9

50

377

1

2009

11

10

131

437

3

44

417

4

2010

12

1

19

93

0

3

11

0

2011

3

0

7

20

0

1

6

0

Photo
Texans running back Alfred Blue (28) runs around Titans inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard (59) during a 2018 game.© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. Alfred Blue

  • Seasons With Texans: 201418
  • Playoff Appearances: 201516, '18

Alfred Blues career with the Texans started out a lot faster than it finished, but as a sixth-round draft pick, he proved to be a bargain find for Houston. Blue blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in the first game of his career, and later in the season, he set career-highs when he carried the ball 36 times for 156 yards in a win over the Browns. Throughout his five-year tenure in Houston, Blue mostly served a reserve role or on special teams, but he did fill in for 16 starts. He only surpassed 100 yards in a game five times, but he did carry the ball at least 100 times in four seasons.

Blues outstanding game as a rookie also etched his name into the franchise record book. His 36 attempts are the most recorded for a Texans running back, and his 156 yards tied the single-game record among rookies. In his career, Blue carried the ball 673 times for 2,407 yards and eight touchdowns and added 69 receptions for 470 yards and two touchdowns. On the all-time list, he ranks fourth among Houston running backs in attempts and yardage. Blue also appeared in four playoff games, but he was mostly a non-factor, except for a start in 2015 against the Chiefs when he gained 99 yards on 17 carries. He signed with the Jaguars after his rookie contract expired, but was injured and has yet to appear in another NFL game. In October of 2019, Blue was cut by the Jaguars.

Alfred Blue's Statistics With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD

2014

16

3

169

528

2

15

113

1

2015

15

9

183

698

2

15

109

1

2016

14

2

100

420

1

12

40

0

2017

11

0

71

262

1

7

54

0

2018

16

2

150

499

2

20

154

0

Photo
Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) takes a handoff from quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) against the Titans. Miller would run 97 yards for a touchdown and the longest play in franchise history.© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. Lamar Miller

  • Seasons With Texans: 201618
  • Playoff Appearances: 2016, '18
  • Pro Bowl: 2018

Following the 2015 season, the Texans released the franchises career rushing leader, Arian Foster. They wasted little time in adding a feature back to replace him. Lamar Miller signed a four-year contract worth $26 million to replace Foster as the teams lead running back. He produced three solid seasons before suffering a season-ending injury in the 2019 preseason. Miller gained 106 yards on a career-high 28 carries in his Texans debut, his first of eight career games in Houston with at least 100 rushing yards.

Millers greatest Texans highlight came during the 2018 season when he rumbled 97 yards for a touchdown against the Titans, which was the longest play in franchise history. It was the second 97-yard touchdown of his careerthe first being a game against the Jets in 2014 during his time with the Dolphins. This left him as the only player with two touchdowns of more than 95 yards in NFL history. In that game, Miller gained 162 yards on 12 attempts to set the teams single-game record for rushing average with 13.5 yards per carry.

Miller missed the entire 2019 season after tearing his ACL during the preseason. His contract expired after the 2019 season, but he hopes to continue playing. In total, his career numbers with Houston were 716 attempts for 2,934 yards and 13 touchdowns. He added another 678 yards and five touchdowns on 92 receptions. In three playoff games, Miller gained 165 yards and had one touchdown.

Lamar Miller's Statistics With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD

2016

14

14

268

1073

5

31

188

1

2017

16

13

238

888

3

36

327

3

2018

14

14

210

973

5

25

163

1

2. Domanick Williams

  • Seasons With Texans: 200305

The Texans drafted a standout running back during their second year. Domanick Williams, a fourth-round pick, provided Houston with a playmaker right from the start. In 2005, one game shy of his third straight 1,000-yard season, a knee injury derailed his career. Williamswho was known as Domanick Davis during his playing careerdid not win the official Rookie of the Award from the NFL in 2003, but was voted by the fans as the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year. Because of his versatility, he had 24 games with at least 100 yards of total offense, despite only breaking the 100-yard rushing barrier 11 times.

Williams was released by the Texans in 2007 after spending the entire 2006 season on injured reserve. At the time, he was Houstons career rushing leader after gaining 3,195 yards on 770 carries. He scored 23 touchdowns on the ground, and added five more touchdowns and 1,276 yards on 154 receptions. With such a blistering start to his career, some wonder how much more Williams would have produced if he had recovered from his knee injury.

Domanick Williams' Statistics With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD

2003

14

10

238

1031

8

47

351

0

2004

15

15

302

1188

13

68

588

1

2005

11

11

230

976

2

39

337

4

1. Arian Foster

  • Seasons With Texans: 200915
  • Playoff Appearances: 201112
  • All-Pro: 201011
  • Pro Bowl: 201012, '14

Arian Foster was skipped over entirely in the 2009 NFL Draft, but latched on with the Texans as an undrafted free agent. Although he came into the NFL with a chip on his shoulder, he left as one of the top NFL running backs from the early 2010s. Once he was given a chance to become the premier rusher in the offense in 2010, he posted the finest season ever from a Houston running back. And that was only the start.

Foster had three straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2010 to '12 and scored at least 10 rushing touchdowns during each of those seasons. In 2010, he led the league with 1,616 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, as well as 393 touches and 2,220 total offensive yards. Along the way, he picked up the top two single-game rushing efforts in franchise historya career-high 231 yards against the Colts in the 2010 season-opener and a 180-yard effort against the Jaguars in the 2010 finale. Foster missed the second half of the 2013 season due to a back injury, but rebounded to average nearly 100 yards per game in 2014. His tenure with the Texans ended during Week 4 of the 2015 season when he tore his Achilles against the Dolphins, who would sign him for the 2016 season.

In his career with Houston, Foster carried the ball 1,454 times for 6,472 yards and 54 touchdownswhich all stand as franchise recordsand he added another 2,268 yards and 14 touchdowns on 249 receptions for a total of 8,740 offensive yards. Among undrafted running backs, Foster trails only Joe Perry and Priest Holmes in career rushing yards, and his 1,616 yards from 2010 are the most in a single season for an undrafted player.

Arian Foster's Statistics With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD

2009

6

1

54

257

3

8

93

0

2010

16

13

327

1616

16

66

604

2

2011

13

13

278

1224

10

53

617

2

2012

16

16

351

1424

15

40

217

2

2013

8

8

121

542

1

22

183

1

2014

13

13

260

1246

8

38

327

5

2015

4

4

63

163

1

22

227

2

Honorable Mentions

With several strong running backs in franchise history, there were also several worthy players who just missed out on the top five. Lets take a look at two other players who left an indelible mark on the Texans franchise.

Ben Tate (201113)

When Houston selected Ben Tate in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, it was the earliest the franchise had ever drafted a running back. However, Houston was unable to utilize Tate until the following yearhis rookie season ended abruptly due to a broken ankle in the 2010 preseason opener. Tate rebounded with 942 yards and a team record of 5.38 yards per carry in 2011, but with the emergence of Arian Foster, Tate was never established as the regular starter. He also continued to battle injuries, missing time in 2012 with toe and hamstring injuries, and ended his 2013 season on injured reserve due to cracked ribs. Regardless, he did lead the Texans with 771 rushing yards in 14 games in 2013. And against the Patriots that season, Tate became the third player in team history to score three rushing touchdowns in a game. In Tates three seasons with the Texans, he gained 1,992 yards and 10 touchdowns on 421 carries.

Ron Dayne (200607)

Ron Dayne only spent two seasons with the Texans, but he was the leading rusher in both of those seasons. Dayne came to Houston following an injury to starter Domanick Davis, and Dayne ended up being a solid stop-gap rusher. The former Heisman Trophy winner (1999) had the finest single game of his career in 2006 against the Colts when he rushed for a career-high 153 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries, despite suffering a minor ankle injury during the game. In 2007, he rushed for a career-high 773 yards in his final season, and in total with the Texans, Dayne carried the ball 345 times for 1,385 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Photo
Texans running back Carlos Hyde (23) passes the pylon for a touchdown against the Titans during the 2019 season. With 1,070 yards on the ground, he became the most recent Houston player to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season.© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Texans Running Back History

The following is a look at the franchise rushing records, as well as a handful of other facts and trivia about Texans running backs.

Who Is the Current Texans Starting Running Back?

Currently, the starting running back for the Texans is David Johnson, who was acquired in a trade with the Cardinals in April 2020. The backup is Duke Johnson.

How Many Running Backs Have the Texans Drafted?

The Texans have drafted 12 running backs in their 18-year history, never selecting one in the first round.

  • 2019: Cullen Gillaspia (No. 220)
  • 2017: DOnta Foreman (No. 89)
  • 2016: Tyler Ervin (No. 119)
  • 2015: Kenny Hilliard (No. 235)
  • 2014: Alfred Blue (No. 181)
  • 2010: Ben Tate (No. 58)
  • 2008: Steve Slaton (No. 89)
  • 2006: Wali Lundy (No. 170)
  • 2005: Vernand Morency (No. 73)
  • 2003: Domanick Williams (No. 101)
  • 2003: Tony Hollings (No. 33 in the supplemental draft)
  • 2002: Jonathan Wells (No. 99)

What Are the Longest Rushing Plays in Texans History?

The longest rushing play in Texans history was a 97-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller against the Titans on Nov. 27, 2018. That was the second career run of 97 yards for Miller, who also had one with the Dolphins on Dec. 28, 2014, against the Jets. Other rushing plays of more than 70 yards in Texans history are:

  • 81 yards: Justin Forsett at Detroit (Nov. 22, 2012)
  • 74 yards: Arian Foster at Oakland (Oct. 3, 2010)
  • 71 yards: Steve Slaton at Indianapolis (Nov. 16, 2008)

Each of those plays resulted in a touchdown. The longest non-scoring rush in team history was a 60-yard gain by Ben Tate on Sept. 15, 2013, against the Titans.

Houston Texans Rushing Records

Listed below are the franchise's rushing records, as well as individual statistics for every 1,000-yard rushing season in the history of the Texans.

  • Career Yards: 6,472, Arian Foster (200915)
  • Single-Season Yards: 1,616, Foster (2010)
  • Single-Game Yards: 231, Foster (Sept. 12, 2010)
  • Career Touchdowns: 54, Foster (200915)
  • Single-Season Touchdowns: 16, Foster (2010)
  • Single-Game Touchdowns: 3, Ben Tate (Dec. 1, 2013), Foster (Sept. 12, 2010), Ryan Moats (Nov. 1, 2009)
  • Career Rushing Average: 4.34 yards per carry, Foster (200915)
  • Single-Season Rushing Average: 5.38 yards per carry, Tate (2011)
  • Single-Game Rushing Average: 13.5 yards per carry, Lamar Miller (Nov. 27, 2018)

Houston Texans Running Backs With 1,000 Yards in a Season

Player
Year
G
GS
Att
Yds
TD

Arian Foster

2010

16

13

327

1616

16

Arian Foster

2012

16

16

351

1424

15

Steve Slaton

2008

16

15

268

1282

9

Arian Foster

2014

13

13

260

1246

8

Arian Foster

2011

13

13

278

1224

10

Domanick Williams

2004

15

15

302

1188

13

Lamar Miller

2016

14

14

268

1073

5

Carlos Hyde

2019

16

14

245

1070

6

Domanick Williams

2003

14

10

238

1031

8

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Footballfan55
Footballfan55

Arian Foster was an unbelievable player to watch for so long. Wish that we still had that reliable of back in Houston.


Top Stories

FEATURED
COMMUNITY