Is the Texans’ Rex Burkhead the underdog to be RB1?

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When people think of the Houston Texans’ competitive running back group, Pro Bowlers Mark Ingram, David Johnson, and Phillip Lindsay come to mind.

However, there could be an underdog in the group that could vie for the top spot.

According to Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus, Burkhead has a shot to be the Texans’ starting running back due to his efficiency as a pass-catcher.

The Texans running back competition is unusual, to say the least. Lindsay is the youngest player at the position at 27, while the other three backs will be on the wrong side of 30 by the end of the season. Johnson was the only player on the roster in 2020, while the other three were all free-agent additions this offseason.

The former Denver Bronco has been the best player of the four on the ground in recent years, leading the group in explosive plays over the past four campaigns at 65, even though he’s just played three seasons while the others have played in all four.

Meanwhile, Burkhead has been the most efficient receiver among the group, averaging 1.89 yards per route run over the past four years. Everyone else is under 1.50 over that same timeframe.

Anything could happen in this one. We may not have a clear winner now, but it’s a situation to keep monitoring as the season gets closer.

Burkhead caught 96 passes for 856 yards and seven touchdowns in his 41 career games with the New England Patriots from 2017-20. With the Cincinnati Bengals from 2013-16, Burkhead caught 34 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown through 42 career games.

Running backs coach Danny Barrett told reporters on June 8 that he believes the competition at running back will “sort itself out.”

“Right now we’re really just working on conditioning and just getting the base fundamentals down from a positional standpoint more so than plays,” Barrett said. “I think it’ll sort itself out. Again, just looking at what each and every guy can do right now, it’s been exciting for myself. So, as we move forward to training camp, it’s going to be even better once the competitive juices start to flow. I think we’ll have a better feel for that.”

The Texans’ first training camp practice starts Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. Central Time.

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