Ever since running back Domanick Davis went down with a knee injury in early
August, the Houston Texans have been scrambling to find another able-bodied
runner to take the reins. It hasn't been easy. They went through training
camp with two players in mind in Wali Lundy and Vernand Morency. By
preseason's end, it was Lundy who came out on top as the season opening starting
running back. Soon after Lundy won the job, the Texans signed Ron Dayne
after he was waived by the Denver Broncos; and a running back carousel was born.
Lundy and Morency struggled mightily that first week when they combined to rush 16 times for 45 yards. The following week, the team traded Morency to Green Bay for Samkon Gado, a player quite a few teams took interest in after making the most of his chances in Green Bay in 2005, gaining 582 yards in eight games. He started six of those games, before spraining his medial collateral ligament in Week 15 against Baltimore.
In Week 2, Dayne, Lundy and Gado all saw time in the backfield as they combined to rush 20 times for 98 yards. A little better than one-fourth of that came on a 27-yard run by Gado midway through the fourth quarter.
In Week 3 it seemed that Lundy would be the odd-man out, getting no touches and subsequently being declared inactive for Week 4. The bulk of the job looked to be Dayne's as the team tried to work Gado into the offense.
But Dayne wasn't able to crack the 60-yard barrier in either of the two weeks before the team's Week 5 bye, gaining 58 yards in each on 14 and 22 carries, respectively. Gado saw a combined seven carries in the two games as his backup, gaining a total of nine yards.
If you think that sounds ugly, the week following the bye was nothing short of disgusting. Against Dallas in Week 6, Dayne carried 10 times for 14 yards and Gado chipped in with four carries for five yards en route to a 34-6 loss at Texas Stadium.
After three unimpressive starts, Dayne was declared inactive in Week 7, and Gado got the starting nod with Lundy reactivated and given the backup role. While Gado ran the ball 10 times for only 27 yards to lead the team through the first three quarters, Lundy took advantage of his opportunities getting 19 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown. Fourteen of those carries came in the fourth quarter for 86 of the yards to help lead the team to an impressive victory over a tough Jacksonville team.
Does the fact that Lundy got all the carries in the fourth quarter indicate that he will be the No. 1 in Houston for the time being? You would certainly think so, and our sources say he will be. It was a 10-7 game going into the quarter so he wasn't in a mop-up role. It also came against a usually strong, but banged-up Jacksonville run defense that allows 98.7 yards per game.
According to the Houston Chronicle though, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak stopped short of calling him the starter by saying: "I don't get too caught up in the starter thing, but he's definitely going to play more."
Fantasy owners should look at the Texans' situation as a running back by committee
for the time being. One game does not make a running game, and until one
of the backs puts two or three solid games together, none of them should warrant
a consistent starting spot in your lineup just yet. However, it is worth using
a roster spot on Lundy and potentially starting him against a weak Titans run
defense in Week 8. Gado is worth a roster spot in deeper leagues.
About Ray Hinnant
Ray has been with KFFL since 2006.
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