AFC South: Domanick Williams
Best: Arian Foster is the best guy they’ve had, but he was undrafted so he doesn’t qualify. It’s not a great list, but the best of the lot was Domanick Davis, who became Domanick Williams, a fourth-rounder in 2003. (I initially had those names flipped, sorry.) In three seasons, he averaged 4.1 yards a carry and scored 28 touchdowns. That’s pretty solid production for a back during a three-year stretch when his team was 14-34.
Worst: Lots of options here. I remember thinking that 2002 fourth-rounder Jonathan Wells was simply not an NFL back. Vernand Morency (2005, third), Wali Lundy (2006, sixth) and Tony Hollings (2003, second in the supplemental draft) were also not good. The Texans got just one season plus one game out of Morency, who couldn’t get ahead of Ron Dayne, Lundy or Samkon Gado. But the least value came from Hollings, who earned just 49 carries in three seasons. Pro Football Reference says his weighted career average ranks him 10,562nd since 1950.
Best: He takes a lot of grief because he’s not necessarily a big producer for fantasy leagues, but Joseph Addai (2006, first) is very effective at doing what’s asked when he’s healthy. He’s got a darting style that’s suited for the team, he’s a great pass-catcher and he’s very reliable in protecting Peyton Manning.
Worst: The team spent late picks on backs in 2002 (Brian Allen), 2005 (Anthony Davis) and 2006 (T.J. Rushing) and none of them did much. Hard to grade hard on such low picks, but it’s too early to talk Donald Brown (2009 first-rounder) here. Allen had one kick return in 2003 and Davis didn’t make the team. We’ll declare it a tie, acknowledging a hit with either would have qualified as a nice surprise.
Best: Maurice Jones-Drew is the centerpiece of the team and was a steal in the second round (60th overall) of the 2006 draft. The Jaguars passed on him at No. 28 in the first round, when they took tight end Marcedes Lewis. MJD qualifies as the face of the franchise.
Worst: LaBrandon Toefield and Alvin Pearman made contributions on a team that was in pretty good shape at the position with Fred Taylor and then Jones-Drew. So while it’s unfair to hit them for a seventh-rounder from 2008, it also means they’ve done pretty well. Three years into his career, Chauncey Washington finished 2010 on the practice squad of the St. Louis Rams.
Best: You’d expect the 24th overall pick to be here and Chris Johnson certainly is the selection. He’s coming off a 1,364-yard, 12-TD season that was largely regarded as a failure because he’d set the bar so high with his 2,006-yard rushing season in 2009. He’s as fast as or faster than any running back in the league.
Worst: The Titans fell in love with Chris Henry at the combine and let his measurable outweigh his unspectacular performance at Arizona. The second-round pick the team spent on Henry in 2007 amounted to a waste. The Titans kept him for three seasons to try to justify spending the 50th overall pick on him, which was longer than the needed to know he was a strikeout. He played in just 10 games.
- Foster’s 231 yards amount to the biggest total a Texans' back has ever posted in the team’s first three games. Steve Slaton had 192 in 2008, Domanick Williams had 188 in 2005 and Williams had 177 in 2004. (ESPN Stats & Info.)
- Foster is first player in NFL history to rush for 200 yards and three touchdowns on Kickoff Weekend. (From @nflfootballinfo.)
- Foster is on pace to run for 3,696 yards and 48 touchdowns. (From @bnickelsun.)
- Foster's 231 rushing yards were the most ever allowed by the Colts from a single back. The previous high was Barry Sanders' 216 in 1997.
- Foster's 231 rushing yards were the second-most ever on opening day. O.J. Simpson had 250 in 1973.
- It was the 23rd-best rushing performance in NFL history. (Texans PR.)
- Foster had 191 rushing yards in the second half. There were 26 teams in the league that totaled fewer rushing yards for the day, with two games remaining. (Texans PR.)
|AP Photo/Dave Einsel|
|Rookie Steve Slaton rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns to help the Texans to a 30-17 victory over the Jaguars on Monday.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
HOUSTON -- The Texans looked like a team with a foundation Monday night: Three stars shined for a team that played with resolve and assertively took a game from a division rival.
Three-fourths of the way through the season, it may mean they're finally figuring things out. It may mean the Jaguars, whose quarterback got tripped up by his linemen more than once as he dropped back, are an easy team to beat. It probably means some of both.
And that's got to be good enough for the home team, playing for the first time on "Monday Night Football" and now standing alone in third place in the AFC South at 5-7.
Receiver Andre Johnson set the tone with a 31-yard touchdown catch and run on the opening drive, but he then moved to the background in a game that belonged to defensive end Mario Williams, who sacked David Garrard three times and forced a fumble, and Steve Slaton, the electric rookie running back who accounted for 182 yards and two scores.
"He's a little monster for us, he's a little beast for us," cornerback Jacques Reeves said of Slaton, who's averaging 5 yards a carry and is on pace for 1,205 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs.
As a third-round pick out of West Virginia, Slaton was projected by many as a third-down specialist, a change of pace. But unable to get any consistent contribution out of veteran Ahman Green this season -- he's now on injured reserve -- the Texans turned to Slaton to set the pace instead of changing it, and he has been more than they could have reasonably expected.
"Even our offensive coordinator sort of touted him as a Reggie Bush-style back, good out of the backfield with great hands for catching the ball," quarterback Sage Rosenfels said. "He's become a great every-down back. He hits the hole quick and he's got great balance.
"He usually gets hit pretty hard 5 or 6 yards downfield and has great balance to stay up and get another 4 or 5 and sometime break them. He has been sort of a gem for this football team. To find that kid in the third round, he's become one of the best players on our team."
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
With his touchdown, Johnson passed running back Domanick Williams (known as Domanick Davis for most of his career) for first place in franchise history. The 31-yard score broke a tie between Johnson and Williams, who had 28 career touchdowns and 168 points.
Johnson, an unassuming guy who's a great combination of size and speed, has suffered with his team's inconsistency at quarterback this season. This is the fifth game Matt Schaub has missed.
The team has talked some about how they hope Schaub-to-Johnson could someday be something like Peyton Manning-to-Marvin Harrison. They've got a long way to go to get there, but it's a nice aspiration.
The conversation about Johnson on the ESPN broadcast has been about how he's not a diva like some of the league's best-known receivers.
Houston has no interest in him developing into one of those, and he won't.
He's got a month's worth of games with Schaub, who is due to be back in the lineup next week at Green Bay, to resume building the connection the team hopes can take off for a full season next year.