HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans will be revamping the roster in a new image for the 2021 season. Although the plan ahead is to win, does adding another running back solve the problem?
The Texans have signed former New England running back Rex Burkhead. Burkhead, 30, recently spent time with Texans new GM Nick Caserio over the past four seasons in Foxborough. Prior to joining the Patriots, he played his first four seasons with Cincinnati.
But yes, “Patriots South” is in play here.
Burkhead does have value despite entering the back end of his career. Last season with Bill Belichick, he rushed for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Burkhead's best work came in the passing sets, where he recorded 25 receptions, including three for touchdowns.
When looking ahead, Burkhead's role with the Texans might be limited. He now joins a running back room that features seven names fighting for potentially four roster spots. Burkhead also is the third running back added by Caserio this offseason.
Veteran Mark Ingram agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal in March. Former Broncos starter Phillip Lindsay agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal to compete for primary reps.
Both Ingram and Lindsay rushed for more yards in 2020 than Burkhead did, yet both struggled to find success in the passing game. Combined, the duo recorded just 13 catches on the season.
Burkhead's best chance of earning reps will be to compete with David Johnson. After traded to the Texans, the former Cardinal still added value to a passing offense that finished No. 4 in 2020 despite a 4-12 total record.
Johnson recorded 33 catches for 314 yards and two touchdowns through the air. The 29-year-old also added 691 yards on the ground and another six scores with his legs.
Houston also might be interested in keeping one of the younger names. Buddy Howell has been a member of the squad in some capacity since 2018. Dontrell Hilliard adds value on special teams. Both names could be just fighting for a spot on the practice squad entering camp.
Burkhead for now is a camp body looking to rejuvenate his career. Since joining the Patriots, he's been a fine third-down back to keep drives alive. Could the Texans view Ingram as that player?
How about Johnson?
One season after finishing 31st in rushing, the Texans will likely be relying on the run to salvage a season. That doesn't mean Burkhead will be an ideal fit once training camp ends.
Players who add more value will make the final 53. For now, expect the former Patriots helper to begin his Texans career on the fence of making the final cut. But will it help Burkhead that he knows “The Patriot Way”? Maybe. Along the way, maybe he can help teach some winning ways, too.
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