David Johnson will be the Texans' primary running back against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, coach David Culley announced Wednesday.
Texans running back Rex Burkhead is out this week with a hip injury that forced him out of a 33-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks after rushing for 40 yards on 11 carries. Culley said that Burkhead, who has rushed for 166 yards and one touchdown and caught 13 passes for 106 yards, is expected to play again this season.
"I think Rex will be OK," Culley said. "He just won't be able to go this week."
Johnson has been activated from the COVID-19 reserve list since Monday after missing the Seahawks game.
Johnson has rushed for 176 yards and averaged 3.0 yards per carry. He has 28 catches for 214 yards and one score after restructuring his contract during the offseason to return.
“Well injuries happen and unfortunately for us David having the COVID was a big setback simply because it wasn’t an injury more so than it was the situation with the COVID," Culley said. "Playing those two and having three available is good enough for what we wanted to do moving forward after the break. Unfortunately, we’re losing Rex in that particular ball game and not having David up was a tough deal for us.”
Now, the Texans will go with Johnson and Royce Freeman, who rushed for 15 yards on 11 carries and caught six passes for 51 yards against Seattle, as their main two running backs.
"Right now, David and Royce will be our two running backs just like we had last week less Rex," Culley said. "We can actually take our tight ends and use some of our tight ends in a position as a back in some protection things to offset that.”
The Texans were down to just Freeman when Burkhead got hurt Sunday against the Seahawks with tight end Jordan Akins playing some running back.
The Texans can also elevate running back Darius Jackson or Darius Anderson from the practice squad this week.
Running back Jaylon Samuels is on the Texans' practice squad-COVID-19 list since Saturday.
The Texans rank last in the NFL in rushing offense. They have resorted to several screen passes for rookie quarterback Davis Mills lately and swing passes to make up for the lack of a power running game.
“Not necessarily substitute, it’s one of the ways we’ve felt like getting the ball in Brandin (Cooks') hand quickly," Culley said. "They all aren’t necessarily to him, but that is like a run. We have some passes that we have in our offense that we feel like should be like a run.
"That’s where we talked about Davis moving forward. There are passes that we call that if he drops back and lets it go and throws it to one of our backs right now, it’s like a run play for us. We’ve got to get him to thinking that way.”