Texans hope RB D'Onta Foreman will keep Lamar Miller 'fresh' during season

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- In his first NFL game, Houston Texans running back D'Onta Foreman impressed, running for 76 yards on nine carries, including a 41-yard run down the right sideline.

Although it's only preseason, that production is good news for the Texans, who hope the rookie can help spell Lamar Miller this season to lighten his workload.

In 2016, Miller had a career-high 268 carries for 1,073 yards and five touchdowns. Miller missed the last two games of the regular season due to injury and still accounted for 59 percent of the Texans' carries last year. Miller's backup was Alfred Blue, who played in 14 regular-season games and ran for 420 yards on 100 carries.

“I think [having Foreman] will help me out a lot, just keep me fresh throughout the whole season,” Miller said. "Once I get the opportunity, I got to make plays when my number is called."

Foreman is competing with Blue to be Miller's backup. The rookie is big, listed at 6-foot-1 and 233 pounds, and the Texans hope his size can complement what Miller can do. The Texans have a diverse group of running backs in training camp, and position coach Charles London said he thinks it's probably the most competitive group he has had in Houston.

The rookie said he was pleased with his production on Wednesday, but acknowledged that because he is a backup, it doesn't count as much as it would going against the Carolina Panthers' starting defense.

“It felt really good to go out there and be able to run the ball and be able to pick up my assignments, my blitz pickups and stuff like that,” Foreman said. “I think I did well. But like I said before, I went against the twos and the threes, so it's like, it's still -- I played well against the people that were out there but I still haven't really gotten in the flow of the real NFL.”

The Texans leaned heavily on Miller and their running game last season, especially because of the way the passing game struggled under quarterback Brock Osweiler. The Texans found their offensive identity on the ground in 2016, and even with Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson under center this year, Miller said he thinks the Texans will continue to run the ball as much as they have in the past.

“I think coach [Bill] O'Brien does a great job emphasizing that we're a physical team,” Miller said. “Us as running backs, we take pride in that and we just try to help the quarterback be in manageable third-downs. We just try to keep the chains moving.”