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‘You can’t deny his talent and his will’

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Take a bowling ball, wrap it in barbed wire, douse it with lighter fluid, set it ablaze, chuck that sucker at the pins and you’ll get close to the experience of watching Dameon Pierce play running back.

The Houston Texans rookie showed a national audience an array of angry runs in Thursday night’s 29-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, making him one of the most entertaining young backs in the NFL.

Pierce rushed for a career-high 139 yards on 27 carries Thursday night, plowing through the Eagles’ defensive front time and time again. The rookie continues to be the brightest spot on the Texans’ offense.

“He is hard to stop,” coach Lovie Smith said via the official transcript. “You know, I wouldn’t want to be a defensive back with him having a full head of steam running downhill. You know, when I say just continuing to go, keeping his legs moving, moving the pile. What we want to be, a running football team. Physical running attack. Our tailback kind of says it all in what we would like to be.”

To call Pierce physical feels like an understatement. He’s a throwback runner who bursts through arm tackles like a grenade in Jell-O. It’s not just the long gallops, like Thursday night’s 36-yarder. Pierce is able to take what would be a 2-yard loss and turn it into 3-yard gains. Those types of runs keep an offense on schedule.

This wasn’t a one-week burst either. Pierce has been a menace to defenses all season. His 678 rush yards through eight games are the most by a Houston running back since Arian Foster in 2014. With his Thursday performance, the rookie joined Foster, DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson as the only players in Texans franchise history with 750-plus scrimmage yards and four-plus TDs in the team’s first eight games of a season.

“I’ve been saying it all year,” quarterback Davis Mills said. “The run game helps a lot with the total offense, helping the pass game and opening up other runs. But Dameon, I don’t even know if he thought coming into this year how well he would do, but seeing how hard he works, it’s not very surprising. He is putting in good game after good game and continues to do it, fights hard for extra yards. A lot of it goes, and he will tell you too, to how well the offensive line is playing. And Troy (Hairston) at fullback opened up some holes. I think it’s a full effort, but you can’t deny his talent and his will to go out there and put up a bunch of yards every week.”

In the middle of a rebuild, the one-win Texans continue to search for building blocks. They found a keeper in Pierce.

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