Howell has been fined for an illegal blindside block on a punt return during last week's win over New England, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.
Howell, who is a top special-teams contributor for the Texans, plans to appeal the fine. As a running back on offense, Howell has played just 11 snaps and gained five yards on two carries.
Howell rushed 15 times for 84 yards and a touchdown and wasn't targeted in the passing game in the Texans' 30-23 preseason win over the Lions on Saturday.
The second-year back led all ballcarriers in rushing attempts and yardage on the night, averaging an impressive 5.6 yards per tote along the way. Howell's long run was a modest 14 yards, meaning he consistently picked up solid chunks of real estate throughout the night. The Texans now have Duke Johnson in the fold as an experienced complement to Lamar Miller, but there could be room for Howell as the third back, a role he may have gotten closer to securing with Saturday's performance. It should be noted that all of Howell's work came in the second half after Taiwan Jones, Josh Ferguson, Karan Higdon and Damarea Crockett got first-half carries.
Howell is in contention for the backup job to starting running back Lamar Miller in the wake of the Texans waiving D'Onta Foreman, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com reports.
As an undrafted rookie in 2018, Howell primarily was contained to special-teams duty, logging 266 snaps in that realm versus just three on offense. With Alfred Blue and Foreman elsewhere, Howell has a path to reps behind the 28-year-old Miller, who has missed four games combined in three seasons as a member of the Texans. While the competition for that work could be fierce, those vying for the job lack experience in general outside of Taiwan Jones. Aside from Howell and Jones, Josh Ferguson, Damarea Crockett and Karan Higdon round out the RB depth chart.
Howell is expected to play a significant role on special teams in 2019, Deepi Sidhu of the Texans' official site reports. "I just know they want me here for special teams, to make an impact on special teams. So, that's my thing. If it get a carry, that's a bonus for me," the running back said.
The 23-year-old Howell is entering his second season in the league after going undrafted out of Florida Atlantic in 2018. He carved out a special-teams role ahead of his rookie season and ultimately logged the fifth-most snaps (265) in that area for Houston last year. However, he only saw three snaps on offense without logging a single carry. The improved health of D'Onta Foreman does not bode well for Howell to be more involved offensively in 2019, though the latter's proficiency on special teams at least gives him a leg up for a roster spot.
The Texans have listed Howell (hamstring) as inactive for Saturday's wild-card clash with the Colts.
Howell was never expected to play any role in the Texans' offense if he was able to suit up, as there are three healthy running backs ahead of him on the depth chart. Any impact of his absence would be felt on special teams.
Howell (hamstring) is questionable for Saturday's wild-card game against the Colts.
Howell is nursing a hamstring injury, and could be a game-time decision for Houston's playoff debut. The depth running back will take the majority of his snaps on special teams if he's able to suit up.
Howell (hamstring) was limited in practice Tuesday.
Howell is a special teams contributor but hasn't taken an offensive snaps since Week 15 -- one of his three offensive snaps on the season. Look for more updates on his status to come in the next two days.
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.
The Texans claimed Howell off waivers from the Dolphins.
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 waived Troymaine Pope.
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