Steelers' Bell appears to be off the table

Gaine's running back plan for Texans is clear: Miller,  Foreman expected to carry the load next year

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Texans general manager Brian Gaine made clear at the NFL Scouting Combine where he stands on his team's running backs and where he wants the team to go in 2019 with the position.

"We like the composition of the current depth chart," Gaine said referring to veteran Lamar Miller and third-year rusher D'Onta Foreman.

"Lamar Miller was our starting back last year, was a borderline 1,000-yard rusher. Unfortunately, he missed a game or two. He probably would've gotten 1,000 yards on the season – three-down back."

Is it safe to say Lamar Miller is the starter for next season?

"Yes," Gaine replied simply.

While Miller missed the 1,000 yard mark he achieved his highest yards per attempt since his rookie year. He's scored six touchdowns in each of his three seasons as a member of the Texans. His receiving numbers dropped off last season to some of the least impressive of his career. He is entering he the final year of the free agent contract he signed with the Texans.

As for Foreman, Gaine sees potential in the young back after finally getting back from his injury.

"We're optimistic about a very positive return in his contributions. We saw glimpses of that the previous season. Also impressed us in the passing game, so we're optimistic that those guys will be back and intact."

With Gaine saying the team would be "selectively aggressive" it doesn't seem a play at big-ticket free agent Le'veon Bell is in the cards.

"I'm always going to try to prioritize this, we're always going to try to keep our own, draft and develop our own, and try to sign our own guys to long-term deals before we look for external solutions."

Gaine could be scouting the next member of the running back room this weekend though.

"Then, we're going to evaluate the draft here coming up," he said. "Ideally, we'd love to have a committee backfield and have contributions from various players, but Lamar was a three-down back last year and we're optimistic that Foreman will return to full health."

Cody's Take

I don't hate this approach by Gaine. Lamar Miller, D'Onta Foreman, and a potential mid-tier free agent or draft pick is a fine running back room. I don't see how or why they'd get in the Le'veon Bell sweepstakes when they have to pay Clowney and a safety this year, key role players like D.J. Reader, and eventually Deshaun Watson. You don't need an albatross of a contract like Bell's on this Texans team.

They need someone else though. They can't lean on just Miller and Foreman like they did in 2018 with Miller and Blue. Getting someone in the building they trust is of paramount importance.

Trust is a reason Lamar Miller is going to be a rare NFL player who will play out his free agent deal as is. He isn't as frequently dynamic as he used to be but he is a fine part of a rotation. For some reason a lot of Texans fans think Lamar Miller's money is a problem for the Texans but he's only set to have a $7.2 million cap hit. Cutting just creates a hole you have to replace.

If D'Onta Foreman is close to the level of talent he possessed before injury he's the potential playmaker for the running backs. I am skeptical he's regained almost all of his ability but if it is true there is potential for him to lead the team in rushing next season.

As for the other spots I would love to see investment in either the second or third round in a running back. I like a lot of players in this class while I am not too fond of some of the veterans. Setting the room up for a Miller-Foreman-rookie depth chart in 2019 and Foreman-rookie-veteran in 2020 wouldn't be the worst move.

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Nick Caserio's history of drafting injury prone players has become a problem. Composite Getty Image.

Nick Caserio was hired to serve as the general manager (GM) of the Texans on January 7, 2021. Some saw it as another nod to the organization's obsession with the Patriots. Others saw it as the team finally getting their guy after pursuing him previously. They were even hit with a tampering charge while trying to talk to him about the job. Since he's been on the job, there have been highs and lows.

Recently, the news about Kenyon Green and Derek Stingley Jr put a stain on his tenure. Green was placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR) and Stingley Jr is expected to be placed on IR, likely missing six to eight weeks, per Aaron Wilson. Both guys were Caserio's 2022 first rounders. Both guys are starting to look like busts and have fans a little more than just upset.

Green's case was curious because he was said to have needed surgery before he tore his labrum during the Saints preseason game. He had knee surgery this past offseason. There were knee injury concerns when he was coming out of A&M. Adding to his injuries, Green has played poorly. To make matters worse, the Chargers drafted fellow guard Zion Johnson two picks later. Johnson played all 17 games last season as a rookie at right guard and has moved to left guard this season. The pick used to draft Green was part of a trade back with the Eagles. They used the 13th overall pick to take Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a guy at a position this team could desperately use.

Stingley Jr was a highly touted recruit coming into LSU as a freshman. He played as well as any corner in the country that year. Oh, and they won a national title with arguably one of the best teams in college football history. His net two years in Baton Rouge were marred with injuries. Some believed his junior year was more him holding back to stay healthy for the draft. It worked because he was taken third overall, one spot ahead of Sauce Gardner. Gardner went on to be an All Pro as a rookie. While he's surrounded by more talent on the Jets' defense, people will forever link them because Stingley Jr hasn't lived up to expectations. He missed six games last season and is set to miss at least that many this season. When he has played, he's looked okay. “Okay” isn't what you want from a guy drafted third overall ahead of the other guy who was widely considered better than him.

For the 2021 draft, Caserio was handcuffed. He had no first or second rounders, and made a few trades that lessened his draft pool from eight to five picks. Of the five guys drafted that year, only Nico Collins seems to be a player. The 2022 draft was more productive. Although Green and Stingley Jr were the headliners and haven't played up to the hype, the others are carrying the load. Jalen Pitre and Dameon PIerce alone make that draft class dope. This past draft was seen as the one to save the franchise so to speak. Getting C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr got the team a franchise quarterback and edge rusher with picks two and three overall. The price paid to move back up to three was hefty and puts more scrutiny on Anderson Jr. They appear, so far, to have also found a couple other nice players. Tank Dell being the hidden gem of this class.

While people can't, and shouldn't, base Caserio's performance strictly off of the guys he's drafted, one must call it into question. The '21 draft was a wash. The '22 draft looks suspect, but has some redeeming qualities. The '23 draft will most likely be his saving grace. But should it? Former Texans GM Rick Smith nailed almost every first rounder he drafted. Even he was almost run out of town because folks didn't like what he did. Why should Caserio be any different? So what if he cleaned up the mess by the previous regime! That's what he was hired to do!

“Keep that same energy!” That phrase is used when people try to hold others to different standards. Where's that energy everyone had for Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak, David Culley, and Lovie Smith? When others weren't performing well, their heads were called for. I see some people holding Caserio accountable. For the most part, it appears as if he's getting a bit of a pass. I'll be interested to see if this continues should the team has another subpar season. If that pick they traded to the Cardinals is another top 10 pick and the Browns pick the Texans own isn't...if Green can't come back and/or Stingley Jr doesn't show any signs of being a lockdown corner...then what? Let's hope none of this comes to fruition. If it does, we'll have to revisit this conversation.

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