Bill O'Brien's stunning decision to trade DeAndre Hopkins also brought in running back David Johnson, and so far, the coach and general manager is pleased with his return.
O'Brien told reporters Thursday Johnson has been "impressive, smart and in really good shape," via team site writer Deepi Sidhu.
That's a good start for a running back who is pursuing a redemption tale, but Johnson is going to need more than intelligence to prove the Texans didn't lose the trade by a wide margin. He'll have another Johnson -- Duke Johnson -- in his backfield to help him carry the load as the two attempt to form a backfield capable of taking some responsibility off the shoulders of quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Johnson said Thursday he's encouraged by the challenge because of whom he's running alongside.
"We're going to be a lethal threat, not just with running, but with catching the football," Johnson said of he and Duke Johnson's potential as a tandem, again via Sidhu.
The elder Johnson has a valid point. Before his trade from Cleveland to Houston, Duke Johnson had amassed at least 510 receiving yards in each of his first three NFL seasons. He fell short of that mark in 2018 as he became less of a focus of Cleveland's game plan, which eventually resulted in his requesting and receiving a trade out of town.
Back in David Johnson's best professional year of 2016, he was a dual-threat dynamo, racking up over 2,100 all-purpose yards and scoring 20 total touchdowns. That season vaulted him to the top of fantasy draft boards, but injuries and inconsistencies -- from both Johnson and the surrounding circumstances in Arizona -- have left that season feeling more like a fond memory than an indicator of future success.
That could change in Houston, where he'll be paired with a smaller back who's similar in style. O'Brien believes their skill sets can coexist on the field at the same time, and his staff has spent plenty of offseason time devising different packages to do just that, per Texans TV host Drew Dougherty.
Those who have followed Duke Johnson have heard a similar tale from his time in Cleveland. If Houston can do what the Browns eventually abandoned without accomplishing it, the Texans might finally have a backfield worth worrying about -- and maybe that Hopkins trade won't look so bad after all.