Green Ready To Put On Running Shoes For Texans
Ready To Run Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Megan Manful

Ready To Run

When running back Ahman Green hit the practice field for the first time as a Texan last week, it was hard for him not to think about the weather in Green Bay.

The temperature neared 80 degrees at Reliant Park. Back in Wisconsin, thermometers were barely tipping 60.

Green hardly felt like "Batman" as he navigated through the first day of the team's offseason conditioning program. But he expects his longtime nickname to fit him as comfortably as Houston's weather soon.

"They see me out here running, so they know I am Batman, but I am human," said Green, who earned his nickname because of his lifelong infatuation with the comic book hero. "I can get broken down, and the first day of running definitely did that. But that's what we work hard for, and that's what our goal is: to work hard and be contenders in the AFC South."

The Texans are confident Green, 6-0 and 218 pounds, will help move the franchise forward. When Gary Kubiak became head coach last year, it was no secret the success of his offense depended on a reliable running game. But the Texans never were able to find consistency there last season.

During training camp, Domanick Davis was placed on injured reserve. Ron Dayne joined the team a week before the 2006 opener and brought with him a case of turf toe. That left the pressure on rookie Wali Lundy and Samkon Gado, neither of whom became comfortable in the starting role.

Kubiak: We got a playmaker

"We have to run the ball to be successful. We're going to start there," Kubiak said. "That's why we went out and we got a player that has explosive, playmaking ability in Ahman Green. We re-signed Dayne, who played well for us last year. There's no pressure then on Samkon, Wali or Chris Taylor. They can just show us what they are capable of, because we already know who our two guys are right now."

The Texans have turned one of their biggest weaknesses from 2006 into a strength. They will take five running backs into training camp, guaranteeing fierce competition, especially among Gado, Lundy and Taylor, a second-year player.

The three youngsters will receive a number of repetitions because Kubiak expects to rest Green, 30, for one practice each day during two-a-days. He might do the same with Dayne.

"I think it's going to be an exciting competition because, unfortunately, we can't keep them all," Kubiak said.

Just how successful the backs become will depend not only on the growth of the offensive line but also on fullback Vonta Leach, whom the Texans re-signed by matching an offer sheet he received from the New York Giants last month.

Leach joined the Texans midway through last season and quickly emerged as a starter.

He was the primary blocker during the last month of the season and helped the Texans boost their average rushing yards per game from 96.2 to 125.2.

"There was no doubt that he came in late last year and not only won the job but showed he could be the future at the position," Kubiak said.

Dayne often was the beneficiary of Leach's big blocks. In the franchise's first victory over the Indianapolis Colts, Dayne was the hero, rushing for 153 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-24 decision.

If goal line near, watch for Dayne

With Dayne expected to be used in short-yardage situations, Green should receive the bulk of the carries in 2007. Green had 266 carries for 1,059 yards in 14 games with the Packers last season. He also had 46 receptions for 373 yards.

After seven seasons in Green Bay and two in Seattle, Green won't find a new offense as challenging to adapt to as the weather. He isn't worried, though.

"I just came from Green Bay, and it's just now cracking into the 60s a dry 60s, too, no humidity," Green said. "But it's just about getting used to it.

"I can't wait, because I like training in this type of weather."


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