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Vickers paved way for Texans' record-setting rushing day

The saying goes, you never want to be the guy who replaces The Guy.

For five years, Vonta Leach was not only The Guy in Houston's run-oriented offense, but he had become the standard for all blocking fullbacks to the point where he earned a three-year, $11 million deal from the Baltimore Ravens in free agency this past offseason.

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Leach was replaced by versatile tight end James Casey, who has had trouble staying on the field this season because of a pectoral injury.

Meet Lawrence Vickers, the guy behind the guy behind the guy. Actually, Vickers never played behind Leach, though he was the guy on the opening-day depth chart behind Casey. The Texans brought Vickers in from Cleveland, where he paved the way for two 1,000-yard rushers -- Jamal Lewis and Peyton Hillis.

On Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Houston rushed for a team-record 261 yards, and it was Vickers clearing the way for Arian Foster and Ben Tate. It didn't go unnoticed by coach Gary Kubiak.

"Lawrence has come in, and boy, has he played well," Kubiak said on Monday, one day after Houston's 30-12 dismantling of the Browns. "That's the third week he's started, and that's the best he's played. You guys see how we've run the ball here lately, so you've got to give him a lot of credit along with our guys up front.

"Lawrence has taken to what we're trying to teach and do. We ask our fullback to do a lot in our offense, and it takes some time, and he's really starting to take to it. He's playing very well."

He played especially well on the two long touchdown runs by Foster (video) and Tate (video) on a record-setting day in which Houston spent a good amount of time in two-back sets. In both cases, as well as on Tate's 24-yard run (video), Vickers cleared out a linebacker and opened a hole for his teammate.

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