Mandatory Credit: Photo by Trask Smith/CSM/Shutterstock (13436021ae) Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) rushes for a 75-yard touchdown during the 2nd quarter of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX NFL Chargers vs Texans, USA – 02 Oct 2022
“Why wasn’t he used more at the University of Florida?”
Houston Texans RB Dameon Pierce has looked like an absolute steal in the fourth round for the team, as Pierce has grabbed the top back spot by the horns and impressed more with each passing week.
On Thursday, Texans RB coach Danny Barrett spoke to the media at length about his budding star back.
First, Barrett noted Pierce is a relentless worker:
“The time we put in pre-practice, during practice and everything. He’s soaking it all up, and each week he’s progressing and getting better. I think a lot of that has to do with, first of all, his work ethic and attitude. He wants it, and he’s like a sponge trying to absorb as much as he can as fast as he can.”
Barrett was asked to describe Pierce’s “beast mode” run in Jacksonville where he broke 6 tackles, but this was the best he could come up with:
“You really can’t. It’s one of those deals where you had to be there, or if you saw it on the replay. You don’t coach that. That’s something that’s internal within the young man himself. He’s a very determined young man. He runs hard every game. That’s one of the things that we talk about postgame is his attitude, his ability to finish runs. He was determined to try and get the ball in the end zone. It’s a credit to him, his work ethic and attitude.”
Pierce’s play has the Texans RB coach wanting to give his rookie runner all the opportunity he can handle, but the team knows they need to make sure he stays on the field:
“Each week he’s getting more reps, getting more touches, doing more things with the ball in his hand. More involved with the passing game as well, which is always a natural progression for a young back. He’s just going to continue to feed on that, build on that. As much as he can handle, we’ll give him an opportunity to be on the football field. But we also have to be cognizant of how much we are using him early so he can finish the game. That’s always the key too. Because our key now going down the stretch, as I see it, we need to be able to finish, and we need guys like him on the field to be able to finish games.”
Barrett expressed that Pierce is a natural blocker and continues to improve playing without the football:
“It’s a natural skillset for himself. I always asked, ‘why wasn’t he used more at the University of Florida?’ But he’s a natural athlete, great ability to cut on a dime. Good vision as well. So, all of those things add to his success, and the contact balance. Being able to run through contact. Those are things that he brought to the table. Now he’s just trying to get better each and every week with the things that we’re doing. I think also being in flow with the offensive line, more reps, more opportunities. He only played a few snaps in the preseason. You’ve got to remember that as well. So naturally, as he gets more reps with the starting five O-lineman, he’s starting to get a feel for those guys. They have a feel for him, so it’s a natural progression as far as in our run game.”
The team is working on making Pierce more polished as a receiver:
“Some of the things we do in the special teams period, we spend extra time doing that. Just working on route running and being where you need to be for the quarterback. As you saw the other day, a lot of those are just being present for the quarterback, whether it be a check down or designed plays for him. His ability to catch the football is going to be key moving forward.”
Barrett noted the offensive lineman have quickly learned not to relent on plays that Pierce carries the football because Pierce doesn’t go down:
“A lot of good things, but I think what has impressed me and everybody else is his ability to get yards after contact. Man, he runs through tackles. You think he’s down, and we’ve seen this from game one to now, you think he’s down, and he’s five yards down the field. So, our guys, even the players, have realized you’ve got to block until the whistle with this guy. The yards after contact have probably been most impressive. His ability to finish runs like that. That’s stands out the most to me. Everything else, it comes with the territory, but guys that can finish like that. That’s a rarity.”