Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock (13400510hk) Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith before an NFL football game, in Denver Texans Broncos Football, Denver, United States – 18 Sep 2022
It turns out that Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith and RB Eno Benjamin have a bit of history together.
Much of Lovie Smith’s media time on Wednesday was spent addressing questions about the team’s newly acquired running back, Eno Benjamin.
Benjamin did not practice on Wednesday, but he is expected to practice in full on Thursday, according to the head coach:
“No, he’ll be out there tomorrow. As far as improving our roster, whenever we have a chance, we’re constantly looking to improve our roster. When players become available that we think that can help us, and that’s the case with Eno (Benjamin) – go back all the way to high school, recruited him then. I think he’s started a few games for the Cardinals this year. Good football player added to the mix.”
Smith actually recruited Benjamin when he was in high school, and Lovie was the head coach at Illinois, but he downplayed it to the media:
“I recruited a lot of guys. That term recruiting, when you really have a chance, it’s not like he visited us or anything. Went to Arizona State and had a great career there.”
“He was on our recruiting list, and we had a little bit of a conversation, as I recall. The older I get in these years, I kind of forget an awful lot, but I haven’t forgotten that much about him. He was a good player in high school, good player in college, has been a good pro, and we’re hoping he’ll give us something.”
What does Smith like about Benjamin as a player?
“First off, we want running backs that know what to do with the ball, can carry it. Feels like he can catch the ball. Has a little bit of size to him also.”
When asked about the focus on the running game for his team and across the NFL, Smith responded:
“You say that it’s trending that way. I think the running game has always been a part of winning football. Maybe more emphasis is placed on it right now. We know more of the numbers, but there have been great running backs in our game throughout. There’s a group of coaches that have always placed an emphasis on that. I’ve lived in that world all my life, so as far as other trends that are out there, don’t know a lot about them. You need a good running game. You need a good passing game. You have to have a personality on what you want your football team to be. Running personality or a passing personality, you start with that. There’s a group of us that starts with the run first. That’s not to say we don’t believe in the pass too. As far as great running backs, there’s a lot of running backs in the hall of fame. The running back has been a part of winning football since the beginning of time, and that is never going to change.”
While Smith does want another back in the mix for the Texans, it is not to be in a timeshare with star rookie RB Dameon Pierce:
“I think the first thing you need to do, I think what most people try to do, is get one running back that they feel good about. Now we dress three, so we want the second one to be able to run the ball too. I think the focus first; it’s hard enough to get that bell cow. That’s what you’re looking for first. Do you need more than one guy? Are we going to be a team that’s going to split reps? We need a 1A and a 1B? No, we’re going to have a starting tailback, and we’re going to have a backup. If the backup has to play, we don’t want a big drop-off as much as anything. Then our third running back is going to be a guy that’s going to hopefully be able to; maybe his emphasis is on third down and special teams. That’s how the running back position has been like that for me in my entire career.”
Will Benjamin be up to speed enough to play Sunday? Smith was noncommittal:
“He hadn’t been in the building yet, so you want me to predict whether he’s going to play? I’ll put it like this. We have to keep moving on like he’s not going to play. Since we’re bringing a new player into the mix, we played a lot of games when he wasn’t a part of the team, so we’re moving on like he is not and will not (play). We’re going to give him a little bit of time, at least get in the building, and then we’ll see.”