POINT BLANK

Joel Blank: Texans should beef up backfield by taking a shot at Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is worth a gamble. Photo by Adrian Peterson/Facebook

The biggest worry that Texans fans had heading into the upcoming season is water under the bridge—hopefully. Deshaun Watson is on schedule to be ready for training camp and should be ready to play in Week 1 of the 2018 season. Because of this, the backup QB is not as pressing an issue as it could have been, health permitting of course. On the defensive side of the ball J. J. Watt is also progressing nicely in his rehab, as is Whitney Mercellus. Both players are on pace to join Watson on the field when camp opens next month.

Thanks to all those encouraging reports, new GM Brian Gaine can check off a few more boxes on positions that would have to be addressed or upgraded through remaining free agents. He already added talent and depth to the offensive line which was his top priority, as well as upgrading the secondary with veterans Aaron Colvin, Tyrann Mathieu and rookie Justin Reid. So the only other position with question, one that is vital to the comfort of Watson and the success of Bill O'Brien's offense, is running back.

Every good offense needs a reliable and deep running game to sustain success in the NFL. We all know that O'Brien loves to run the football, maybe a little too much, especially when he loses faith in his quarterback or passing game. The Texans expected big things when they signed Lamar Miller in 2016 and for the most part he has been steady in his two seasons as the feature back. He hasn't been spectacular, but his ability to take the majority of the carries, as well as catch balls out of the backfield has made him a vital cog in the Texans offensive game plan.

The biggest problem has been his lack of big plays and the abiilty to break big runs during the course of games. His longest run last season was 21 yards after ripping off a 45 yard scamper in his first year. He also only logged three rushing touchdowns last season, although the low scoring and predictable offense could be at least partially to blame for that minuscule number.

Behind Miller, the Texans had a young workhorse in D'Onta Foreman, a rookie out of the University of Texas. Drafted in the third round, he was brought along slowly at first, but then showed that he belonged in the NFL with a punishing, physical running style and above average quickness. Unfortunately that all came to a crashing hault when he tore his Achilles in November. The other back to recieve carries was 4-year veteran Alfred Blue. He has proven to be a good special teams contributor and has had a few flashes of productivity when called upon to carry the ball in spot duty.

Overall, the depth of the Texans running game has been something to be desired, especially with Foreman coming off a severe injury. With all the work that has been done to improve the roster this off season, why not add a veteran back to the mix, at least for training camp to give the team some insurance if Foreman isn't able to answer the bell in the early stages of the pre-season? Why not add Adrian Peterson?

Adrian Peterson is a proven commodity in this league that has been an MVP with the Vikings, been to seven Pro Bowls and been First Team All-pro four times. He is well beyond those years of being a feature back and carrying the load for a team, but he still has juice in the tank and a desire to prove that last season was more of a fluke than the end.

Peterson split time between the Saints and Cardinals last season, including struggling to find carries and time in a crowded backfield that included the experienced Mark Ingram and rookie sensation Alvin Kamara. Once he got to Arizona he was immediately thrown into the starting lineup and given the chance to once again toe the rock on a consistant basis. In six games with the Cardinals he racked up 448 yards on 129 carries, while averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Not quite the big time numbers of the past, but still a steady contributor that proved he could still be counted on to produce.

AP is still unsigned and lives in the Houston area. He keeps himself in excellent physical condition and has expressed his desire to play for the Texans if given the opportunity. If you are GM Brian Gaine, why not give him a shot? What do they have to lose? Sign him to a make good contract that is loaded with incentives and low on guarantees as you give him an opportunity to help the team while he helps himself. His experience can help Foreman while it buys time for him to fully recover from his injury. He could also prove to be a steady and reliable backup to Miller that gives O'Brien a change of pace in spot duty. If it works out, Gaine and the team look like geniuses and if it doesn't, both sides can walk away at least knowing they gave it a shot.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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