After the Houston Texans cut veteran running back Marlon Mack on Tuesday, former Gator Dameon Pierce becomes the apparent starter in Houston. Pierce, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, finished his first preseason with 11 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Texans are reportedly re-signing Mack to the team’s practice squad.
Dameon Pierce, Houston’s new apparent RB1. pic.twitter.com/xe3peYPBDk
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 30, 2022
Profitable preseason for Dameon Pierce
The Texans decision to cut Mack and apparent decision to start Pierce comes after a strong preseason performance by the rookie, who led the team with 7.8 yards per carry in the preseason. Additionally, Pierce graded higher than any running back in a preseason since 2006 with his PFF grade, an impressive 92.4.
Pierce’s best performance in the preseason came during the Texans’ final preseason game on Aug. 25 against the 49ers. In a 17-0 win, Pierce rushed for 37 yards on six carries and added his first career professional touchdown.
The Texans finished their preseason with a perfect 3-0 record and now turn their attention to the regular season.
A look back at a legendary career
In four seasons in the Orange and Blue, Pierce rushed for 1806 yards and 23 touchdowns. Pierce’s touchdown total is tied for 11th in school history with Kelvin Taylor (2013-2015) and Jeff Demps (2008-2011).
Pierce’s best season as a Gator came in his final season. Despite a disappointing 6-7 record in 2021, Pierce shined, rushing for 547 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns, which is tied for fifth in a single-season in school history with Emmitt Smith (1987), Fred Taylor (1997) and most-recently Kelvin Taylor (2015). Additionally, Pierce’s 13 rushing touchdowns tied for second in the SEC in 2021.
Receiving-wise, Pierce caught three more touchdowns. His 16 individual touchdowns in 2021 is tied for sixth in school history and tied for second in the SEC that season.
After declaring for the NFL Draft, Pierce further impressed during a strong performance at the Reese’s Senior Bowl practices.
Florida RB Dameon Pierce put in a shift on Day 2 of the Senior Bowl. His toughness and effort in pass protection was really impressive pic.twitter.com/BIiAL0wWAu
— Jack Brentnall (@Jack_Brentnall) February 3, 2022
The Texans eventually drafted Pierce in the fourth round with the 107th overall pick.
Houston continues a rebuild under new coach
After a 4-13 season in 2021, the Texans look to continue rebuilding their team around young talent such as Pierce and second-year quarterback Davis Mills. In 13 appearances last season, Mills threw for 2,664 yards and 16 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.
Entering 2022, Houston will be led by head coach Lovie Smith. The Texans promoted Smith to head coach following one season as the defensive coordinator. He replaces David Culley, who was fired after one season leading the franchise.
The Texans begin their 2022 campaign at home against the Colts on Sunday, Sept. 11.