Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said that he views Howell as a runner who can contribute on first and second downs, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. "Good size, first- and second-down back," O'Brien said of Howell, whom the team claimed off waivers over the weekend. "Liked what we saw on film on offense and on special teams, so we took a shot and we'll see how it goes."
While suiting up for the Dolphins during the preseason Howell rushed for 76 yards (5.4 per carry) and one touchdown, but it wasn't enough for the undrafted rookie to crack the 53-man roster. The Texans saw enough potential in the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder to put in a claim, adding him to a running-back room lacking in quality depth behind starter Lamar Miller. Though he offers intriguing size between the tackles, Howell enters the season as the clear No. 4 man on the depth chart and is expected to make most of his near-term contributions on special teams.
Howell was an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic. His best season came in 2016 when he scored 13 touchdowns and average 5.0 yards per carry. To make room on the roster, Houston waive Troymaine Pope.