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Texans Rookie RB Dameon Pierce Career Day: What It Means For Houston Future

The career performance Dameon Pierce had during the Houston Texans' Week 4 loss to the Chargers is a testament to his consistent improvements.

HOUSTON — Rookie running back Dameon Pierce nearly changed the trajectory of the Houston Texans' Week 4 match against the Los Angeles Chargers. 

The Texans trailed 21-0 at the 9:48 mark of the second quarter when Pierce received a handoff from quarterback Davis Mills. Fullback Troy Hairston showcased his run-blocking attributes by helping the offensive line create a second level for Pierce to rush past the line of scrimmage. 

The rookie running back from Florida went on to score the second touchdown of his young career by rushing for 75 yards down the right side of the field.

Pierce's play provided a much-needed spark for the Texans. But it wasn't enough to prevent Houston from sustaining a 34-24 loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium on Sunday.

"There's a reason why we're starting a rookie running back," coach Lovie Smith said. "Not many running backs are going 75 yards or so. In the NFL, that's hard to do. Pierce is just kind of showing you all of the things that he can do. He is a guy that we need to continue to feature."

Pierce finished the game with 131 yards on 14 carries. His play marked the third longest rushing touchdown in franchise history — trailing Lamar Miller (97 yards) and Justin Forsett (81 yards).

Since his Week 1 performance against the Indianapolis Colts, Pierce has consistently improved his production in areas that once made Smith hesitant to stay committed to his rookie back. 

Against the Colts, Smith said that he wanted to see Pierce upgrade his pass blocking. And the following week in a loss to the Denver Broncos, Pierce showcased his improved blocking after working with the offensive line during practice.

In the game against the Chicago Bears, Pierce coughed up two fumbles in the loss. His second resulted in Smith pulling Pierce in favor of Rex Burkhead for the final 10 plays of the game.

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As the Texans (now 0-3-1) went through their preparations ahead of their match against the Chargers, Pierce spent extra time with running backs coach Danny Barrett to enhance his ball security.

"Coach and I have been getting it right before and after practice — D.B. and I are always working on something," Pierce said. "I have probably beaten myself up more than any coach. I am young and still learning. But that is no excuse for me to lose the ball."

Pierce became the third Texans rookie running back to rush for more than 130 yards in a single game — joining Alfred Blue and Steve Slaton, who rushed for 156 yards, respectively.  

He also became the fifth rookie running back over the previous five seasons to record at least 300 yards rushing in the first four weeks of their rookie campaign. 

Veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks described Pierce's play as "crazy," while crediting his rookie for providing the Texans with "juice" in hopes of pulling off an improbable comeback.

"It takes one play to be able to get the team going, and that run, to be able to make a guy miss like that and be able to strike down the sideline, got the whole team amped up," Cooks said. "I think that was a defining play to be able to keep us going and moving the ball in the right direction."

You can follow Coty M. Davis on Twitter at @CotyDavis_24

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