Answering the same question in which Texans interim head coach Wade Phillips said running back Dennis Johnson might or might not play on Sunday because of a hip injury, Phillips dropped this: "Jonathan Grimes is now our starting running back."
It has been a strange year for the Texans at running back.
They started the season deep and with one of the best in the league. Starter Arian Foster worked through calf and back injuries during training camp, which meant he had to be eased into his workload. In his fourth game Foster rushed for 102 yards, 98 in his fifth game and 141 in his sixth. But then his injuries caught up to him. A disk issue in his back meant surgery and a spot on injured reserve.
About the same time Foster went on injured reserve, another running back situation appeared. In training camp, with Justin Forsett gone to free agency, four undrafted rookies vied for a spot on the active roster. When the one who made it, Cierre Wood, wasted his opportunity and was kicked off the team, the Texans carried five running backs on their active roster, adding Dennis Johnson, Ray Graham and Deji Karim.
Johnson was the favorite to make the team out of training camp until a fumble issue lost him the job. When he returned he solved his ball security issues and showed why he was the favorite to start. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his first game active with the Texans, gaining 36 yards on eight carries.
At that point though, the Texans didn't need him to carry too big of a load. Ben Tate, who cracked four ribs in Kansas City, played through the broken bones until they got worse two weeks ago in Indianapolis and he couldn't any longer. Tate became the second Texans starter to go on injured reserve. To fill his role, the Texans signed Jonathan Grimes, who was in camp with them last season as an undrafted rookie.
That left Johnson with starting duties, but even he wasn't free from the curse. Neither was Deji Karim, Johnson's backup on Sunday, who broke his collarbone in the game. Karim is done for the finale. Johnson is "questionable," Phillips said, but added that Grimes will start. Grimes spent some time last season with the Jets, Jaguars and Texans. The Texans signed him as a free agent.
At this point in the season, does it really matter who starts at running back? What's to be gained in just one game?
It will matter for Grimes, who could make a case for himself for next season. That's the biggest thing any of these guys has to play for now.