|Houston's Dayne excels in 2 wins filling in for Green|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 19 November 2007 14:25|
After two straight solid rushing performances in wins, however, his Houston Texans teammates have come up with something a lot more positive: ``The Dayne Train.''
The 1999 Heisman Trophy winner from Wisconsin isn't too concerned with such things, but he did crack a smile when a teammate yelled it as he passed through the locker room.
``Whatever,'' he said. ``As long as I can get out there and help the team play and win, it don't matter what they call me.''
With Ahman Green out for most of the season with an ailing knee, Dayne is Houston's leading rusher. He had 21 carries for 89 yards on Sunday and 21 carries for 122 yards in the Texans' win over Oakland before the bye.
In Sunday's win, Dayne carried six times in Houston's last drive to eat up five minutes of the clock and keep the Saints off the field in a 23-10 victory.
``We have a lot of confidence in him,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. ``He makes plays for our team and there at the end of the game he really took the game on his shoulders and ran the ball well.''
Kubiak was impressed by a 20-yard run on that last drive where Dayne shed three would-be tacklers before he was brought down at the 9.
``I've never seen Coach Kubiak really get excited about a run, but when he got that run, Coach Kubiak got pretty pumped up,'' Andre Johnson said. ``So that was exciting to see.''
After five tumultuous seasons with the Giants and one year of limited work in Denver, Dayne finally feels at home with the Texans. He came to Houston before last season after being released by the Broncos.
``(Kubiak) hooked me up and gave me an opportunity to play, which I feel like I'd never had since I've been in the league,'' Dayne said.
That doesn't mean Dayne hasn't had struggles in Houston. In his first four games with the Texans he had 15 carries for negative yards or no gain. He came on late in the season and had 429 yards rushing with five touchdowns in December.
He did well in the first two games as a complement to Green but was derailed by bruised ribs that kept him out of two games and slowed in four more.
The 243-pound Dayne is most effective late in games and when he gets more than 20 carries. In two seasons with the Texans, Dayne has gained at least 85 yards in all but one game where he had at least 20 carries.
It's a statistic that tackle Eric Winston has noticed, saying the team needs him to get 20 carries a game.
``Sometimes the game won't allow that, but he's at his best when he can just get carry after carry and just really punish defenses,'' Winston said. ``That's how he's always been. He's not a guy that you can just touch once and think he's going to take one to the house. He's a guy that's just going to slowly wear down defenses and he's just going to start popping those runs in the fourth quarter when you need them.''
Kubiak said he is not considering placing Green on the injured reserve now, but that it's getting harder to use a roster spot on him when he isn't playing.
``We're trying to be as patient as we can and make sure that we give him every opportunity to feel like he can fight through this and help us before we would make a decision of that nature,'' Kubiak said.
Dayne, who still holds the NCAA Division I career rushing record with 6,397 yards, will remain Houston's starter as long as Green is out. Even if Green returns, the 29-year-old hopes Houston is the last stop in his winding NFL career.
``I definitely would love to end my career here and play as long as I can and long as they let me play,'' he said.
Notes: TE Owen Daniels broke his nose against the Saints, but shouldn't miss any time. ... CB Fred Bennett has a slight groin strain, but Kubiak said he should be OK.