Cierre Wood had a productive season for Notre Dame in 2011, rushing for 1,102 yards on 217 carries (5.1 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns along with 27 receptions. So there was hope for him to repeat or build on that success in 2012, but a suspension for the first two games of the season due to a violation of team rules derailed that, and he finished with 742 rushing yards on 114 carries (6.5 yards per carry) and four touchdowns.
Wood chose to forego his final year of eligibility and enter April’s draft, but he was not selected and the Houston Texans signed him as a free agent soon after the draft ended. Houston signed two other undrafted running backs as well, Ray Graham and Dennis Johnson, so Wood will not lack competition for a roster spot during training camp.
Arian Foster is the clear top dog in Houston’s backfield, but Ben Tate is coming off a disappointing 2012 season (65 carries for 279 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games) as his primary backup. It’s unclear if the Texans want someone to come in and legitimately push Tate for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, but with him entering the final year of his contract the team may start to look toward the future. Foster was sidelined by a right calf injury during OTAs, and even though he is expected to be ready for training camp the Texans will surely not overwork him before the games count.
Wood’s skills are well-suited to Houston’s zone blocking scheme, so I think he could get a long look during the preseason and has a great chance to have some success. An early projection of the Texans’ 53-man roster, courtesy of CSN Houston.com, had Wood making the team as the No. 3 running back over Graham, Johnson and veteran Deji Karim.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.