Maurice Jones-Drew says Texans have 30th-best starting running back

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The Houston Texans have a loaded running back stable with seven rostered backs, including three Pro Bowlers in Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson, and Mark Ingram.

What coach David Culley and his offensive staff will have to determine throughout training camp and preseason is who should be the bell-cow.

According to Maurice Jones-Drew’s latest running back rankings at NFL.com, the Texans have the 30th-best starting running back in the league — that is, if their starting running back is none other than Ingram.

I believe Mark Ingram will be the Texans’ starting running back come Week 1, but I can’t put anything past Phillip Lindsay. To keep Lindsay off the field (I’m not actually convinced this will happen), Ingram needs to provide a physical, punishing run game for a Texans offense that has myriad question marks heading into training camp. Given Ingram’s familiarity with David Culley, who coached Ingram in Baltimore, the veteran has a real opportunity to bounce back from a down 2020 performance and have one of his best seasons as a seasoned back who thrives at the goal line.

Ingram produced 299 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 72 carries through 11 games in 2020, a considerable downgrade from his Pro Bowl performance the year prior when he rushed 202 times for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns through 15 games, all of which he started.

Texans running backs coach Danny Barrett appreciates having the 31-year-old in his position group as Ingram is a “natural leader.”

“Just his ability to be around the guys and talk about things from his experience,” Barrett told reporters on a Zoom call on June 8. “That’s one of the first things that we talked about from day one, from your experience what does it take in a room like this. He voiced his opinion about some things, and everybody was agreement and vice versa.”

If Ingram is supplanted as the starting running back throughout the regular season, Houston will still have a capable leader in the locker room.