The Pivot Podcast co-host, along with former NFL players Ryan Clark and Channing Crowder, attended the Houston Texans training camp and had some very complimentary things to say about second-year running back Dameon Pierce.
“He gets downhill fast,” said Taylor about Pierce. “He doesn’t waste a lot of time going sideways. His speed is deceptive. Once he gets out in the open, he seems to run away from a lot of people.”
Taylor had a very productive NFL career as he finished in the top-10 in rushing for six of his 11 seasons with the Jaguars, with his best year coming in 2003 with 1,572 yards on 345 carries. He was selected second-team All-Pro in 2007. Before that, he was running through defenders at the University of Florida; the same college Pierce attended before being drafted by the Texans in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pierce’s years at Florida remind Taylor of his playing days, as well as he had to split carries with two other running backs his junior season.
“Even when I watched him play at Florida, they were by committee a lot of time, so we didn’t get a chance to really see him when others got most of the reps,” said Taylor, who is also a member of the University of Florida Hall of Fame. “So, when he got to the league, he turned into a whole different player. Most guys are built for the pro-style, and he has proved to be one of them.”
The Georgia native took the league by surprise last season, rushing for 939 yards on 220 carries and four touchdowns. His rookie season was cut short in Week 14 when he suffered an ankle injury against the Dallas Cowboys, which placed him on the injured list for the remaining four games.
One of his best games of the season was in front of Taylor in Week 5 when the Texans visited TIAA Bank Field Stadium to take on the Jaguars. Pierce came one yard shy of having consecutive back-to-back 100-yard rushing games as he finished with 99 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown in Houston’s 13-6 victory.
“I didn’t want him to see him run like that against the Jags,” Taylor jokingly responded when asked about the game. “But I was torn because he is a Gator [Florida] boy, so I was proud of him.”
Heading into the 2023 regular season, Pierce has set high goals and expectations. If he meets those goals, he knows it will be a team accomplishment first and then a personal one.
“It’s going to look a lot better than last year, but to answer your question, definitely cap 1,000 [rushing] yards, definitely,” said Pierce when asked what a full, healthy season will look like for him. “I’ll say that. I think I got 960 something [yards], 939, so 60, 70 yards away from 1,000.”
“So, I definitely see that. That’s a goal I have for myself. That’s what I expect from me, so I definitely want to cap 1,000. ‘Slow’ [Bobby Slowik] expects that everybody around me expects that, and I’m going to try everything in my power to get that.”