It's looking more and more like Hollings could be a draft steal if Davis happens to go down to injury (which isn't all that unlikely)
Emerging Hollings around to give Davis breaks
By MARK BABINECK, AP Sports Writer
August 31, 2004
HOUSTON (AP) -- Domanick Davis picked up right were he left off last year. Then Tony Hollings picked up right where he left off in 2002.
Davis, who missed the first two preseason games with a bum left ankle, ran for 37 yards on his first six preseason carries last week before getting a breather in the thin Denver air.
Enter Hollings, who hasn't been 100 percent since tearing a ligament in his right knee two years ago at Georgia Tech. He took his first carry of the game 27 yards for a score.
``You look at it like, `Yeah, I did score the touchdown,' but it was the drive (Davis) was in,'' Hollings said. ``When it goes on the board, it doesn't go down as Tony Hollings scoring seven points, it goes down as the Texans scoring seven points.''
Last year, Davis' absence would have meant Houston playing a past-his-prime Stacey Mack, an unspectacular Jonathan Wells or a banged-up Hollings.
``Domanick runs so hard he's going to need a break every once in a while,'' quarterback David Carr said. ``Really, the only way to give him a rest is to take him off the field, because if he's not getting the ball he's going to block someone 60 pounds more than him as hard as he can.''
The Texans don't have a two-headed backfield or a running back committee. Davis clearly is the man after a breakout rookie season in which the fourth-round draft choice ran for 1,031 yards.
Houston believes it has, for the first time in its young history, an explosive backup who can produce in short bursts or longer if an injury occurs.
Hollings also presents an entirely different style to defenses. Where Davis succeeds using vision, quick cuts and strength, Hollings' threat is speed.
``He's more of a power runner,'' Hollings said, recalling a play at Denver when Davis broke six tackles. ``I'm more of a run-past-you type of guy.''
The one thing the tailbacks have in common is uncelebrated collegiate careers. Davis got plenty of playing time at Louisiana State, was considered a backup and kick returner.
Hollings had just four starts as a tailback at Georgia Tech after beginning as a defensive back. In those starts, though, he was leading the nation in 2002 with 633 yards and 11 touchdowns before blowing out his knee.
Houston spent a 2003 second-round draft pick on him in the supplemental draft, ostensibly as their tailback of the future. He hobbled through last season while Davis changed the Texans' plans with his performance.
Still, Hollings is thrilled he's going to be an important cog.
``I'm just excited to be out there, to be able to run and make cuts full-speed and not worry about my knee, to just play the game,'' Hollings said.
For his part, Davis is more than happy for a little relief, even if it sometimes means he doesn't score.
``Let me do the dirty work, running in the middle and everything, and he comes in with fresh legs and punches it in,'' Davis said. ``The whole team gets the points. It's not about me or Tony, it's about the team.''