HOUSTON -- Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber were supposed to be a dangerous combination of speed and power when they paired for the New York Giants in 2000.
There was even a poster proclaiming the duo "Thunder and
But the 1999 Heisman Trophy winner resuscitated his career by leading Houston in rushing last season. Now he's hoping he and first-year Texan Ahman Green can team to form a new and improved version of "Thunder and Lightning."
"It kind of reminds me of when I first got to New York with Tiki, even though Ahman's bigger," Dayne said Sunday. "He's aggressive. He's a power runner but he's got the speed too. That's really going to help because I come in as a bruiser and I can still
run. So it won't be a letdown. We can go back and forth."
The key to the plan working in Houston will be the 245-pound Dayne proving his durability. He missed five games last season with injuries including turf toe and a sprained ankle. It's been five years since he appeared in all 16 games in a season.
Coach Gary Kubiak called the 215-pound Green and Dayne a "great combination" and said he's looking forward to seeing them in games together.
Dayne was disappointed at first when Green signed because it meant he wouldn't be starting. Now he's looking at the bright side of going in after Green has been running at the defense.
"It will be great," Dayne said. "Him wearing them down will make it a lot easier for me when I come in."
Dayne, 29, and Green, 30, both reported to camp in great shape and have already impressed coaches and teammates with their work ethic in the first three days of practice.
Both have played the majority of their careers in cooler climates so they say getting in proper condition to deal with the heat was important.
"It's something we take pride in because we work out hard in the offseason," Green said. "We worked out four days out of the week, sometimes five. Running in this humidity and heat gets you ready. No matter what, you'll be ready."
Green had 266 carries for 1,059 yards last season after recovering from a torn right quadriceps in 2005. In his nine-year career he has gained 8,491 yards rushing and has 54 touchdowns. Before the injury in 2005, he gained more than 1,100 yards in each
of the previous five seasons.
He signed a four-year, $23 million contract in the offseason to replace franchise leading rusher Domanick Williams (formerly Davis) who was cut after missing all of 2006 with knee problems.
Dayne had 151 carries for 612 yards and five touchdowns last season for his best year since 2001 with the Giants. Most of that production came in an outstanding December when he had 429 yards rushing and five touchdowns. The highlight came on Christmas Eve when he had a career-high 153 yards rushing and two touchdown to lead the Texans to their first ever win over the Colts.
The two haven't just hit it off as teammates, but have also become good friends this offseason. The normally quiet and reserved Dayne is often seen laughing and joking with Green during breaks in practice or on the way to meetings.
"That's my boy," Dayne said. "He's a great guy so it wasn't hard to establish a good relationship with him."
The Texans added veteran running back Patrick Pass on Sunday after second-year player Chris Taylor had surgery to repair a torn meniscus and is out for the season.
Kubiak said losing Taylor was tough because of the progress he had made since signing with the Texans as a free agent last season. He had 20 carries for 99 yards in Houston's season-ending win over the Browns.
"We gave him a chance at the end of the year last year, and he plays extremely well especially against Cleveland," Kubiak said. "These guys on this football team really respect him, and the path he's taken to become a pro football player. It's disappointing, but
there's no doubt that Chris will be back. Chris will play in this league a long time."
Notes: Cornerback Roc Alexander, who missed all but one game last season with a knee injury, has been injured again. Alexander cracked his knee cap and will miss the entire season. ... Also on
Sunday, the Texans re-signed cornerback Derrick Roberson and running back Darius Walker who were released last week.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)