Marlon Mack

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/20/22

Today’s minor transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/13/22

Here are Tuesday’s practice squad additions and subtractions:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

  • Signed: DB BoPete Keyes

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

  • Released: WR Dai’Jean Dixon

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

49ers Place RB Elijah Mitchell On IR, Add RB Marlon Mack

Elijah Mitchell‘s run of injuries continued with an MCL sprain. This is viewed as a rather severe MCL issue, with Kyle Shanahan expecting his starter to be out for around two months. As such, Mitchell landed on the 49ers’ IR list Tuesday.

The 49ers brought in several backs for auditions Tuesday. Old friend Tevin Coleman, Devonta Freeman, ex-Jet La’Mical Perine and ex-Lion Godwin Igwebuike came in for workouts, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Marlon Mack visited with the team, and this appears to be the direction it will go. The 49ers are signing Mack to their practice squad, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This will be Mack’s first move out of the AFC South; the former fourth-round pick has spent his career with the Colts and Texans. Houston, however, did not keep the former 1,000-yard rusher on its 53-man roster out of training camp. The Texans cut Mack, in moving their roster to 53, and then released him from their practice squad.

Mack, 26, saw a September 2020 Achilles tear throw his career off track. The Colts turned to 2020 second-rounder Jonathan Taylor, and although they re-signed Mack in 2021, the latter did not see much action last season. The Colts discussed possible trades ahead of last year’s deadline, and the 49ers were one of the teams to express interest. But Mack played out his second Colts contract, residing behind Taylor and Nyheim Hines on the depth chart.

Mack signed his second straight one-year, $2MM deal this offseason, joining the Texans, but will come to San Francisco for P-squad money. Mack, who rushed for 55 yards against the 49ers in this year’s Texans preseason finale, totaled 2,099 rushing yards from 2018-19.

Freeman and Coleman, of course, teamed up as part of potent Falcons backfields during the 2010s. They split up in 2019, with Coleman signing with the 49ers. Freeman also played for Shanahan in Atlanta, being the team’s starting back during both of Shanahan’s OC seasons. Coleman signed a two-year 49ers deal in 2019 and played with ex-49ers assistant Mike LaFleur in New York last season. Perine’s Jets stint also overlapped with LaFleur’s.

For now, Mack is the 49ers’ choice. The sixth-year veteran joins a team rostering Jeff Wilson, third-round pick Tyrion Davis-Price and rookie Jordan Mason at running back. Wilson is expected to be the 49ers’ starter during Mitchell’s absence, and the 49ers played Mason — a UDFA out of Georgia Tech — over Davis-Price in their opener.

Texans Release RB Marlon Mack From Practice Squad

Chris Conley‘s name keeps appearing in Texans transactions. The Texans released the veteran wide receiver Tuesday, re-signed him Thursday and cut him again Friday. On Monday, he is back with the team.

Houston added the veteran wide receiver to its practice squad on Labor Day, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. The Texans’ latest Conley-related move will send Marlon Mack back into free agency. The veteran running back is off Houston’s 16-man P-squad.

In paring their roster to the 53-man limit last week, the Texans included both Mack and Conley as cuts. Mack quickly signed with the team’s taxi squad. He came into Monday as the only running back on Houston’s P-squad. The team has fourth-round rookie Dameon Pierce, Rex Burkhead, Royce Freeman and Dare Ogunbowale on its active roster, however.

Mack, 26, signed with the Texans this offseason, coming to Houston for the same terms (one year, $2MM) he agreed to with Indianapolis in 2021. The Colts barely used Mack last season, with Jonathan Taylor fully taking over Indianapolis’ backfield. The Achilles tear the Colts’ former starter suffered in September 2020 began Taylor’s quick rise, and Mack has not been able to re-establish himself since.

It is certainly possible the Texans circle back to Mack — a former 1,100-yard rusher — for a practice squad spot in the future. But his Monday exit continues a downward trend for a player who had been a multiyear Colts starter.

This will be Conley’s second season with the Texans. The former Chiefs third-round pick spent the 2019 and ’20 seasons in Jacksonville before signing with Houston during Nick Caserio‘s first offseason as Texans GM. He caught 22 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns in 2021.

Wednesday NFL Transactions: AFC South

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These ColtsJaguars, Texans and Titans moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s AFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Houston Texans

Claimed:

Released:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Indianapolis Colts

Signed:

Claimed:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Jacksonville Jaguars

Claimed:

Released:

Signed to practice squad:

  • QB E.J. Perry

Tennessee Titans

Signed:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Texans To Add RB Marlon Mack To P-Squad

Marlon Mack will stay with the Texans. Despite being released Tuesday as the team cut its roster down to 53 players, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets the veteran running back is returning on a practice squad deal.

One of several veteran backs to arrive in Houston during Nick Caserio‘s GM tenure, Mack being moved off the team’s active roster was undoubtedly a step back in his quest to show he can still be an NFL starter. But the Texans will keep the sixth-year veteran around as insurance.

[RELATED: Assessing Texans’ 2022 Offseason]

Part of a 2017 running back draft class that has enticed teams to buck the trend against valuing backs — as the eight-figure-per-year deals for Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Alvin Kamara and Joe Mixon have shown — Mack saw his path toward a Colts extension or higher-end free agency pact stonewalled by a September 2020 Achilles tear. With Jonathan Taylor emerging in Indianapolis last season, Mack — who re-signed with the Colts on a one-year, $2MM deal in 2021 — his predecessor did not see the field much. That led him out of Indiana this offseason.

The Texans also gave Mack a one-year, $2MM deal, but they cut bait on it before the regular season began. Mack now sits behind fourth-round rookie Dameon Pierce and veterans Rex Burkhead, Royce Freeman and Dare Ogunbowale.

The Texans keeping four backs stands to provide more hurdles for Mack. The former Colts 1,100-yard rusher is almost two years removed from the Achilles injury, but that injury has proven to be a considerable impediment for running backs. A 2017 fourth-round pick, Mack is going into his age-26 season.

Texans Set 53-Man Roster

The Texans released a number of veterans today as they reduced their roster to 53 players:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

Placed on IR:

Placed on short-term IR;

Davis Mills and Kyle Allen sit atop Houston’s QB depth chart, making Jeff Driskel expendable, but there’s a chance the veteran sticks around as a third quarterback via the practice squad. Driskel spent the 2021 campaign in Houston, getting into a single game. He’s started nine of his 16 career games, tossing 13 touchdowns vs. eight interceptions.

Chris Conley has spent seven seasons in the NFL, and he could have provided some experience to the receivers room. There’s a chance the veteran could end up back in Houston, as the Texans decided to carry only four wideouts in Nico Collins, Brandin Cooks, Phillip Dorsett, and Chris Moore.

Antony Auclair started 13 games for Houston last season, mostly serving as a blocking tight end. Terrence Brooks started three of his 11 appearances, collecting 21 tackles.

Texans To Release RB Marlon Mack

Another veteran running back is being let go today. The Texans are releasing Marlon Mack, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). 

Mack, 26, experienced significant highs and lows during his five-year tenure with the Colts. In 2018 and 2019, he established himself as a legitimate No. 1 back with nearly 2,000 rushing yards, but injuries have limited him to just seven games played since.

With the Colts comfortable in moving forward with Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, it came as little surprise when Mack made the intra-divisional move to sign in Houston. The Texans represented an opportunity for the former fourth-rounder to once operate as a lead back, something which seemed to be made even more possible when the team’s initial depth chart named him as the starter.

Instead, that designation will now, in all likelihood, go to rookie Dameon Pierce. The Florida product put up relatively modest yardage totals even in his final season (574 on the ground, 216 through the air), though he found the endzone 16 times in 2021. His lack of usage by the Gators – he received 206 carries across his final two seasons – likely hurt his draft stock, but his training camp and preseason performances have clearly impressed the coaching staff.

Pierce will be supported by veteran Rex Burkhead in the backfield, who led the team in rushing yards last season. The team’s effectiveness in the ground game – or lack thereof – stands to be improved upon with Pierce leading the way. Mack, meanwhile, will look to find a new roster spot as an experienced backup looking to rebuild his free agent value.

Latest On Texans’ RB Room

Much of the talk around the Texans’ 2022 offense is centered on second-year QB Davis Mills, but improving on last season’s league-worst rushing attack would give the unit a much-needed boost. The team’s first depth chart offers an important look into the team’s plans at the running back position. 

Houston has listed Marlon Mack as the lead back, per Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network (Twitter link). The 26-year-old signed in April to try and rebuild his value after two disappointing campaigns with the Colts. He has played just seven games during that span, which was preceded by a two-year stretch in which he produced 1,999 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns.

Compared to the Colts’ backfield, which is now led by Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, Mack should have a clearer path to a significant workload. He will be in competition with fellow veteran Rex Burkhead, who led the team with 427 rushing yards last season. Those two will be joined by fourth-round rookie Dameon Pierce at the top of the depth chart, which also includes Dare Ogunbowale and Royce Freeman.

A committee approach would come as little surprise at this point, given the lack of known commodities amongst the group. A return to his previous form from Mack would, however, be a welcomed sight for both the rebuilding team and his free agent value next offseason. Failing that, more attention being given to Pierce – who averaged 5.5 yards per carry during his career at Florida – during the course of the season could be expected.

Another member of the Texans’ RB room (at least for the time being) is Darius Anderson. The TCU alum had a burglary charge against him dropped last week, but he will still not be on the field in 2022. Wilson tweets that Anderson suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice. That means the soon-to-be 25-year-old will wait at least one more year to make his NFL debut, and the Texans will have a slightly clearer outlook on an important position group heading into the season.

Latest On Texans’ Running Backs Room

The Texans finished the 2021 NFL season ranked dead-last in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and rushing yards per carry. Houston has made some moves to address the position and the room will look fairly different at camp this summer. 

Last year saw four Texans’ running backs start games. Three of those running backs are no longer on the roster. Mark Ingram returned to New Orleans midway through last season, Phillip Lindsay signed this offseason with the Colts, and David Johnson hit the free agent market and has yet to sign with a new team. While losing three players who started games may sound significant, the three backs combined last year to rush for only 652 yards and 2 touchdowns while averaging only 3.12 yards per carry.

Houston returns their leading rusher last year, Rex Burkhead. Burkhead, who turns 32 next month, racked up the highest rushing total of his career last year in his ninth season, totaling 427 yards on the ground. Burkhead has been a third-down type of running back throughout his career, recording more receiving yards than rushing in tw0 of his nine years. The Texans also return Royce Freeman, who was claimed off waivers in early-November last year.

To address the struggling run-game, Houston made two big moves. The first move they made was to sign free agent running back Marlon Mack in the weeks leading up to the Draft. Mack spent five seasons in Indianapolis, starting as a backup to Frank Gore. Once Gore left in free agency, Mack took the starting job and, despite missing six games in the next two years, was 92 yards away from two-consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. In 2020, a torn Achilles in Week 1 ended Mack’s season and opened the door for then-rookie Jonathan Taylor to take the reins. Taylor quickly took over, finishing second in Offensive Player of the Year voting last year. In his final year with the Colts, Mack took a backseat to Taylor and Nyheim Hines as he was only active in six games.

The second move Houston made was drafting Florida running back Dameon Pierce in the fourth-round of the Draft. Pierce had the best year of his career in his senior season while splitting carries with Malik Davis and Nay’quan Wright. Pierce only rushed for 574 yards in his final season as a Gator, but his physical playing-style led to him leading the team with 16 touchdowns from scrimmage, 13 of those being on the ground.

So who is taking the lead for Houston next season? According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, the Texans will have a committee-approach at running back this year. They have built a room that holds quite a few skill sets necessary for a successful position group. Mack is expected to take the lead back role, as he’s the only one with experience and success in that role. Although Mack runs with the same physical, attacking style as Pierce, Pierce’s presence should allow Mack a bit of a reprieve in those short-yardage and goal-line situations. Burkhead should be able to return to his role as a receiving, third-down back. Freeman has experience spelling starters as a reliable backup, and can continue to do so in any role asked of him. Houston also brought in former-Jaguar Dare Ogunbowale who has plenty of experience as a backup, as well. They also roster Darius Anderson, who will likely serve as a camp body this summer.

With Mack, Pierce, and Burkhead, Houston has specialists for three different situations. If they need or want more bodies on the 53-man roster, Freeman, Ogunbowale, and the young Anderson can compete for that fourth slot. The improvements needed for the run-game need to come from several areas: offensive line make-up, success in the passing-game to take pressure off, down-field blocking from receivers and tight ends, etc. The first-step, though, is to have players who can run, and Houston has drastically renovated their running backs room in an attempt to get out of the basement of rushing offenses.