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Texans rookie Dameon Pierce scores first NFL touchdown, making statement in bid for starting job


HOUSTON – Dameon Pierce rapidly builds and maintains his momentum together with his classic downhill running style, displaying a mix of power and explosiveness.

That very same statement could be accurately made regarding the Texans’ rookie running back’s impressive bid for a starting job.

Pierce, on the heels of his impressive NFL debut against the Recent Orleans Saints, began against the San Francisco 49ers and rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown in his first series Thursday night at NRG Stadium. Pierce displayed an aggressive, ultra-physical demeanor against the NFC West franchise.

For a Texans team that had the worst running game statistically within the NFL a 12 months ago, the arrival of a rookie running back who runs with bad intentions couldn’t be more welcome.

The fourth-round draft pick from Florida is firmly within the conversation to emerge because the Texans’ primary running back. He’s clearly been essentially the most impressive back in practice sessions and games, including a 49-yard rushing performance on five carries against the Saints. With Pierce, though, it’s more in regards to the type of crisp runs he’s manufacturing and his ultra-physical approach more so than the immediate returns.


The Texans sound greater than convinced about Pierce’s upside. Ever since he rumbled for 20 yards on his first carry against the Saints, the joy surrounding Pierce has been growing.

“We’ve seen every part it’s good to see from a very good running back,” coach Lovie Smith said this week. “He can catch the ball. He can run in between tackles. He’ll make you miss within the open field. Pads down low, there’s a number of things to love about Dameon.”

Pierce is competing for enjoying time with veteran Marlon Mack. Mack, a former two-time 1,000-yard rusher, tore his Achilles two seasons ago and continues to be working to regain his old form.

“Play higher,” Smith said when asked what the opposite running backs have to do to set themselves apart. “It’s that easy, really. It’s about production if you get opportunities, flash. Show us your best. At the top of coaching camp, one of the best of everyone seems to be what we must always’ve seen. If not, one last time to point out us.”


Pierce was held out of the Texans’ preseason game against the Recent Orleans Saints.

Houston had seen enough out of him against Recent Orleans. They’re sold on the Georgia native’s potential as a tackle-breaking, 5-foot-10, 218-pounder who attacks linebackers together with his aggressive style.

The Texans’ punishing rookie displayed why he’s earning a popularity as a hard-nosed back with some wiggle within the open field during his preseason debut. The hustle Pierce displayed when he made the tackle on a Jeff Driskel interception was noteworthy as well.

“I attempted to sprinkle slightly little bit of magic in there,” Pierce said after the Saints game. “I don’t run with good intentions, to reply your query. I don’t be offended, just [a] real enthusiastic about what I do.”

Pierce rushed for 574 yards and 13 touchdowns last season in an offensive system that platooned running backs. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry and caught 19 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. As a junior, he rushed for 503 yards and 4 touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 156 yards and one rating.


Now, Pierce is off to a quick start on the NFL level.

“Early on, we did a number of work on him coming in,” Smith said. “We’ve seen his highlights, one of the best of him in college we saw. That’s in your mind. Then when he gets here, he was just eager. Each time the special teams work and also you see him out here working, after which when he began playing. Early on there have been signs, but you needed to get in pads.

“Then, we liked some things he did in pads. Training camp, we’re not doing a number of live work. You get to the primary game and also you see what a player is like, live motion. We’ve liked him every step along the way in which. We’re talking rather a lot about Dameon, but I’m going to say the identical thing for, we like what Marlon has done, Royce, Rex, Dare (Ogunbowale). We have now a very good group. We have now a very good strong running back room.”

That is still to be seen. What’s becoming more evident is that the Texans have found a young running back price investing time and resources into developing.


Pierce once scored a touchdown for the Gators after getting his helmet knocked off. On the Senior Bowl, Pierce literally made a number of noise with how much contact he generated against blitzing linebackers in pass-protection drills.

“Dameon goes to do a number of special things for this team,” Texans right offensive tackle Tytus Howard said. “I remember being on the sidelines. I wasn’t in when he made those runs in the primary week. I used to be excited. We haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher here since 2019 with Carlos Hyde. To see a rookie are available and make those form of plays the primary time he got the ball it’s going to be something special.”

Pierce has run the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds with a 34 1/2 inch vertical leap and bench pressed 225 kilos 21 times. The Georgia native rushed for six,779 yards and scored 92 touchdowns in highschool.

“I took bits and pieces of everybody’s game and molded it to my very own style, which is violent,” Pierce said. “I prefer to fight for my yards. I prefer to punish the defense. I don’t like taking hits. I like giving hits.”


Texans general manager Nick Caserio didn’t hide his enthusiasm when the AFC South franchise landed Pierce.

“He plays with a number of joy,” Caserio said. “He plays with a number of fight. He plays with a number of toughness, and his personality, I might say, transfers over to the football field.”

Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com.

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