Lamar Miller

Latest On Texans Free Agents

The Texans have a number of notable players hitting free agency, but it sounds like the front office has made re-signing Bradley Roby a priority. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that Houston will “do what they can” to keep many of their free agents, a grouping that’s “especially” led by the 28-year-old cornerback.

Roby inked a one-year, $10MM deal with the Texans last offseason, but he was limited to only 10 games (10 starts) during his first season in Houston. Roby finished the campaign having compiled 38 tackles, eight passes defended, two interceptions (including a pick-six), and one forced fumble.

On the other side of the ball, it sounds like the organization is hoping to retain veteran running back Carlos Hyde. However, as Wilson passes along, Hyde declined a contract offer from the organization and is set to hit free agency. The 29-year-old started 14 games and had his first career 1,000-yard season in 2019. Fellow running back Lamar Miller, who was sidelined with a torn ACL last year, will also be heading to free agency.

Wilson passes along updates on a number of other Texans free agents. The organization is hoping to re-sign running back/special teamer Taiwan Jones and linebackers Tyrell Adams, Dylan Cole and Barkevious Mingo. On the flip side, the organization isn’t expected to bring back safety Jahleel Addae.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/26/19

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Buffalo Bills

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Texans RB Lamar Miller Tears ACL, Possibly MCL

Texans running back Lamar Miller suffered a torn ACL in Saturday’s preseason contest, as John McClain of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Per McClain, Miller may have also torn his MCL. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported last night that Houston feared an ACL tear for their No. 1 RB (Twitter link).

Miller will obviously miss the entire 2019 campaign, so Duke Johnson will become the team’s top running back for now. The Texans acquired Johnson from the Browns a few weeks ago, but he isn’t necessarily a workhorse type of back (though as McClain adds in a separate tweet, Johnson will get all the playing time he can handle).

The Texans don’t have much else on the depth chart behind Johnson at the moment. They have veteran Taiwan Jones, who has mostly been a special teamer in recent years, and then a bunch of unproven young/UDFA types. It’s quite possible that they’ll look to acquire a veteran either through a trade or from what’s left on the free agent market. Indeed, the club could ask for an RB in the Jadeveon Clowney trade that is expected to be consummated soon.

Among available free agents, Jay Ajayi is probably the biggest name. Ajayi would make some sense, although he obviously has a significant injury history of his own.

Miller was entering the final year of the four-year, $26MM contract he signed with Houston back in 2016, so this is a tough blow to his open market value entering next offseason. He’ll be 29 in April, and coming off a major injury, he will likely have to settle for a prove-it deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lamar Miller Carted Off With Knee Injury

The Texans may have just suffered a significant injury in their regular season dress rehearsal. Starting running back Lamar Miller went down with a knee injury and had to be carted off, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s unclear how severe the injury is, although obviously the cart coming out isn’t a great sign. Miller was at least able to walk to the cart, tweets David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, so there is some hope. If you want to watch video of the play, you can view that here, courtesy of Ben Baldwin of The Athletic (Twitter link).

D’Onta Foreman was expected to be Miller’s backup coming into the season, but the Texans cut him a few weeks back after he was unable to ever fully recover from his Achilles tear. Houston traded for Duke Johnson shortly after, and they’re surely glad they acquired the former Browns running back now. That being said Johnson is more of a pass-catcher than a runner, and he likely won’t be able to take on a full workload if Miller misses regular season time.

Behind Miller and Johnson, the Texans mostly have unproven young guys. Buddy Howell, a second-year UDFA from FAU, led the team in carries in their second preseason game. Houston also signed veteran Taiwan Jones back in May, although he’s been more of a special teams guy in recent years. It’s quite possible the Texans will look to add a veteran either through a trade or free agency if Miller is going to be out a while.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Notes: Henry, Lewan, Jags, Texans

Mystery still surrounds the extent of Titans running back Derrick Henry‘s leg injury, but as of now, there is no official timetable for when to expect the bruising back to return to the field, Titans online’s Jim Wyatt tweets.

The big back has missed a few days of training camp with the injury and was seen in a walking boot. Many do not expect the injury to be a serious one, but it does have an ominous feel to it after the team announced him as day-to-day on Saturday.

After taking over down the stretch in 2018, the former Alabama running back was expected to enter 2019 as the unquestioned workhorse. We will see if those plans are affected by the latest injury, but Tennessee has the likes of Dion Lewis waiting in the wings.

Here’s more from around the AFC South:

  • Titans offensive lineman Taylor Lewan‘s four-game suspension will cost him $3.4MM in base salary, Paul Kuharsky writes. In addition to the base salary, the Titans also be able recoup part of his signing bonus. Lewan was suspension earlier this week for violated the league’s PED policy.
  • Since Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue has held out of camp for four days, he’s currently facing a fine of $160,000, ESPN’s Michael DiRocco tweets. That brings his total fine to $248,650 due to him missing mandatory minicamp. The fourth-year defensive end is expected to report back to the team in early August as he looks for a long-term deal.
  • Texans head coach Bill O’Brien confirmed Lamar Miller is the team’s lead back but the other spots behind him are wide open, ESPN’s Sarah Barshop tweets. Behind Miller, Houston boasts a large collection of unproven backs looking to make an impact, led by D’Onta Foreman.

Injury Notes: Brown, Wallace, Berry, Bolts

As the Steelers enter their must-win (plus-help-required) Week 17 scenario, their best player is not certain to be available. Antonio Brown missed three practices this week and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. The four-time All-Pro is undergoing tests on his injured knee, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Brown has not missed a game this season. While Pittsburgh would be favored to beat Cincinnati at home without Brown, two-time reigning AFC North champions have not exactly been bastions of consistency this season or in recent years. The Steelers can clinch their fifth straight playoff berth with a win and a Ravens home loss to the Browns.

Here’s the latest on the injury front, shifting to one of Brown’s former teammates:

  • Although the Eagles surprisingly brought Mike Wallace back onto their 53-man roster without the usual IR-return practice routine, the deep threat will not play against the Redskins on Sunday. Philadelphia declared Wallace out because of his ankle injury, making the team’s move to activate him strictly for the playoffs. To make the playoffs, Philadelphia needs to beat Washington and have Chicago stop Minnesota. Wallace is not signed past this season, so it’s now possible he will end his Eagles tenure having played in only two games.
  • The Chargers are assured of a playoff spot, making a possible Hunter Henry cameo more likely. It might occur as soon as next week. Tom Telesco did not rule out his top tight end being ready to return before a possible wild-card game, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Henry participated in seven-on-seven drills with the Bolts on Friday, Williams tweets, doing so after being confined to individual work last week. The Chargers designated Henry to return from IR on Dec. 17, so they have until the divisional round — if their season extends that far — to make a call on Henry.
  • Eric Berry cannot shake his troublesome heel ailment. The three-time All-Pro Chiefs safety continues to battle this issue, Andy Reid said, via the Kansas City Star’s Brooke Pryor (on Twitter). Berry has been on a snap count (99 in two games) since making his season debut in Week 15, and Reid did not commit to Berry playing Sunday against the Raiders.
  • Ahead of the Texans‘ pivotal Week 17 game, Lamar Miller will return. Bill O’Brien said his top running back is “good to go” against the Jaguars. Miller missed much of the past two games with a sprained ankle. The Jags are unlikely to have Leonard Fournette available, with the second-year back listed as doubtful.

AFC Notes: Bell, Jets, Ravens, Harbaugh, Browns, Wylie

Although Le’Veon Bell‘s decision to sit out the 2018 season has caused people in the league to question “his character, competitiveness and motivation”, the Jets must go hard after Bell in free agency, opines Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Mehta writes that the Jets have a “golden opportunity” to get Sam Darnold another weapon, and quotes several of Bell’s former teammates who swear by him.

Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon, who played with Bell in Pittsburgh, told Mehta “when he steps foot in this building, you’re going to get 100 percent from the guy” and that he would “bring the best out of so many people.” Mehta writes that the team “would be foolish not to make an aggressive run at Bell”, and he would fit right in with the New York media market. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has said repeatedly that he plans to be aggressive using New York’s salary cap space this offseason, so Bell being a Jet is a very real possibility.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Despite the team’s surprise announcement yesterday that John Harbaugh would return to coach the Ravens in 2019 and that the team hoped to work out an extension with him, the two sides haven’t had any talks on an extension yet, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora seems to think that an extension is still far from a guarantee, and writes that “numerous significant matters would have to be resolved” before any deal could get done. It will be an interesting situation to monitor, especially if the Ravens end up missing the playoffs.
  • After breaking his ankle in practice, Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie had successful surgery and is recovering well the team announced, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Wylie, who became a fan favorite due to his starring turn on this year’s season of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’, is “questionable at best” for this weekend’s game, according to the team’s announcement.
  • The Texans will be without to key offensive playmakers for their pivotal game against the Eagles tomorrow, as the team ruled out running back Lamar Miller and receiver Keke Coutee for the game, according to James Palmer of NFL Network (Twitter link). Coutee has been out for a few weeks now, but this will be Houston’s first game without Miller in the backfield. It’ll likely be a lot of Alfred Blue against a tough Philadelphia defensive front.

Lamar Miller Open To Playing With Adrian Peterson

Native Texan and free agent running back Adrian Peterson has long expressed his willingness to play for Houston’s NFL franchise, and incumbent back Lamar Miller would have no problem with the Texans adding the 33-year-old Peterson, as he explained during an appearance on NFL Network (video link).

“I used to look up to Adrian Peterson growing up,” Miller said. “He runs the ball hard. He’s a great running back. He’s been a great running back in this league for years. It would be good to have him join us, just his leadership, seeing the things he’s done in previous years, that I feel like I could probably learn from him. It would help us out as a team.”

Miller handled the lion’s share of Houston’s carries in 2017, toting the ball 238 times while managing a 3.7 yards per carry average. The Texans certainly have room for another back however, as D’Onta Foreman — who is recovering from a torn Achilles and could hypothetically start the season on the physically unable to perform list — rushed 78 times last year. Alfred Blue, whom the Texans recently re-signed, handled 71 carries of his own.

Arizona acquired Peterson from the Saints last October for the price of a 2018 sixth-round pick, and installed him as its starting running back in the absence of superstar David Johnson. Peterson, who has maintained he wants to continue his career, managed 3.5 yards per carry on 129 rushes and scored twice in the desert. However, he was among the least effective backs in the league: Football Outsiders ranked Peterson 46th among 47 running backs in both DYAR and DVOA, metrics which measure overall and per-play value, respectively.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Panthers, Steelers, Giants

The Panthers are for sale, and the price has reportedly risen to more than $2.5 billion, according to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg. For reference, the last NFL team to change hands — the Bills — reportedly went for $1.1 billion. The excessive price tag has caused at least one potential bidder, sports apparel mogul Michael Rubin, to drop out of the running, per Soshnick. However, a new suitor has emerged, as Alan Kestenbaum, CEO of private equity firm Bedrock Industries, has expressed interest in the Panther franchise, per Rick Rothacker and Katherine Peralta of the Charlotte Observer.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Los Angeles district attorney does not plan to file vandalism charges against Bills wide receiver Zay Jones following a bizarre incident which was caught on video earlier this week, reports Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter link), who adds insufficient evidence is available to press charges. Jones was arrested following a troubling entanglement in which he struggled with his brother — the Vikings’ Cayleb Jones — before kicking through a glass window. Buffalo selected Jones out of East Carolina in the second round of the 2017 draft. In his rookie campaign, Jones started 10 games and posted 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Several teams have been in contact with free agent running back Alfred Blue, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Steelers, presumably in the market for a veteran backup to Le’Veon Bell, are one of those clubs, but it doesn’t appear as though Blue will be signing with Pittsburgh. Blue, 26, hit his high-water mark in 2015 by rushing for 698 yards in nine starts for the Texans, but the addition of Lamar Miller has forced Houston to scale back Blue’s role since then. In 2017, Blue played on 21% of the Texans’ offensive snaps but managed only 3.7 yards per carry.
  • The Giants are still searching for cornerback help after cutting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earlier this month, and they’re assessing the market for internal free agent Ross Cockrell, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Cockrell, whom New York acquired from Pittsburgh last September, started nine games for Big Blue in 2017. He finished first in Football Outsiders’ success rate, which measures cornerbacks on their ability to consistently stop opposing wideouts short of the sticks. Thus far, the Giants have agreed to terms with lower-tier defensive backs such as B.W. Webb, Teddy Williams, and Curtis Riley.
  • Although John Bowlen — son of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen — recently announced his intention to sell his minority stake in the club, he’s since agreed to sell a portion of his total ownership (which is roughly 30-35%) back to the team, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. John Bowlen’s decision to sell wouldn’t have necessarily affected day-to-day operations of the Broncos, as Pat Bowlen — who stepped down as principal owner in 2014 due to Alzheimer’s disease — would have still held the majority of the club and be entitled to designate one of his other children as his successor.

AFC Notes: Chiefs, Bills, Texans, Browns

The Chiefs announced that they have ruled out running back Jamaal Charles for Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. The team says it’s being careful with the four-time Pro bowler given that he suffered a torn ACL last year. In place of Charles, who has only 12 carries in three appearances this season, the Chiefs will continue leaning on Spencer Ware. The third-year man has held his own with nearly 800 total yards (492 rushing, 285 receiving) and three touchdowns in the Chiefs’ first six games.

More regarding Kansas City and three other AFC teams:

  • Bills general manager Doug Whaley tells WGR 550 the trade market has been “relatively quiet,” but he thinks it will pick up after Sunday (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak). He added that the Bills would not hesitate to make a trade before Tuesday’s deadline.
  • Texans head coach Bill O’Brien classifies running back Lamar Miller as a game-time decision for Sunday’s contest against the Lions, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Miller suffered a bruised shoulder in the Texans’ loss to the Broncos on Monday, but he plans to play through it, writes Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. Miller and backup Alfred Blue picked up 11 carries apiece in Denver.
  • In addition to the previously reported Cayleb Jones, Jeremiah McKinnon, Blake Muir and James Vaughters, the Chiefs worked out defensive end Bobby Richardson on Tuesday, per Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Richardson started in 11 of 15 appearances as a rookie with the Saints last year, though he didn’t make much of an impact statistically (20 tackles, half a sack).
  • Safety Justin Currie is in Cleveland today for a tryout with the Browns, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. Currie went undrafted from Western Michigan last year and spent time wth the Giants.