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Do Texans Have A Starter? Training Camp Preview: Running Backs

In our training camp preview, we take a look at the Houston Texans' running backs and how they could pan out.

As the Houston Texans' training camp draws nearer, will dive into each position group looking at the sure things, battles to watch, and potential sleepers to keep an eye on as the summer progresses.

This time, it's the running backs.

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Houston's running back situation is ... different. 

The team enters camp with no clear starter. Three on the roster who have all previously made the Pro Bowl. All started at some point and are looking to bounce back from a disappointing season.

Phillip Lindsay might be the most likely to start given his age, or lack thereof. The 26-year-old went undrafted in 2018 and ultimately took the league somewhat by storm in Denver. 

Named an All-Rookie teamer and Pro Bowl player his first year, Lindsay rushed for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns. The trend continued into his second year when he again eclipsed four digits with 1,011 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. 

The 2020 campaign was a disappointment due both to injuries and not being seen as a fit for Denver's new offense. That, plus injuries and Melvin Gordon, led to his departure this offseason. 

Houston could be the new beginning Lindsay needs, and given that unlike his peers he should still have plenty of treads left on the tires, he has to be the favorite to start.

Right behind him though is Mark Ingram II. The former Ravens starter has enjoyed longevity in the league that most running backs could only dream of. Now at 31 and in his 11th NFL season, Ingram will bring power to Houston's offense and a downhill style of rushing. 

With three 1,000-plus seasons in his last five years, Ingram doesn't seem to be slowing down just yet and should push for the starting gig. Even if not the technical starter, he should still feature heavily as a rotational back.

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David Johnson joined Houston in a much-maligned trade last year, and many had hoped this would be the fresh start that could kick start his career after a rollercoaster few years with the Arizona Cardinals. 

A former All-Pro, Johnson looked sluggish and uninspired at times last season, not helped by lackluster run blocking from the offensive line's interior. 

The final few games of last season showed that Johnson could still have something left in the tank. If he can build on those performances then he could challenge both Ingram and Lindsay for a starting role.

The Texans also added another veteran back this offseason in former New England Patriot Rex Burkhead. A versatile back, Burkhead could fight for a backup role in this crowded group given his ability as a receiver.

If anything, he'll contribute on special teams. 

There's also younger options for the backup roles. Scottie Phillips showed growth when given an opportunity last season. Buddy Howell has been a solid special teamer for the last three years. 

Dontrell Hilliard, whose best chance at making the roster will be as a returner, will be another name. Given that Houston also signed return specialist Andre Roberts this offseason, his chances look slim.

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He may be the wrong side of 30 and have endured a disappointing 2020 season, but Ingram is the kind of back Houston often needed last season. Given that offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has remained the play-caller, there should be multiple plays in the book that will suit Ingram perfectly and allow him to show what he has left. 

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