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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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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