Sources: Texans running back Dameon Pierce suffered high ankle sprain, may sideline him 1-2 games

Houston Texans medical staff members check on running back Dameon Pierce (31) after he was injured during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) (Tony Gutierrez, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – Texans standout rookie running back Dameon Pierce suffered a relatively mild high-ankle sprain Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys that is regarded as likely to sideline him for at least one game, according to league sources.

High-ankle sprains tend to linger generally, but this isn’t regarded as severe. A source characterized his status as fluid and predicted Pierce could return within a range of one to two weeks.

Pierce is currently expected to return to play at some point this season depending on how quickly the ankle responds with no structural damage revealed during a magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday, per sources.

Pierce hurt his left ankle Sunday in a loss to the Cowboys at A&T Stadium, briefly going back in the game after having his cleat retaped. He was taken out of the game when it became clear that he couldn’t push off his foot, running for one yard on his final carry of the game.

Texans coach Lovie Smith was noncommittal on Pierce’s status for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“He has an ankle injury that kept him out, he didn’t finish the game,” Smith said Monday morning. “That’s always concerning when a player didn’t finish the game. It will take an awful lot for him not to play, but, if it’s an injury, of course it can. Hopefully, it’s short-term. We’ll see.”

If Pierce can’t play Sunday at NRG Stadium, the Texans will turn to backup running backs Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale and Eno Benjamin.

Pierce’s absence was felt against the Cowboys. Especially during a pivotal red-zone opportunity when the Texans had a chance to put the game away in the final minutes. Burkhead was stuffed twice during that sequence for total losses of three yards and quarterback Jeff Driskel was stopped on fourth down shy of the end zone on an option play, leading up to the Cowboys’ game-winning drive engineered by Dak Prescott.

Pierce was limping in the locker room after the game and wasn’t made available to reporters. He indicated optimism to others that it’s not a long-term injury.

Pierce rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries with one lost fumble, including one run where he bulldozed safety Malik Hooker by lowering his right shoulder. Pierce has rushed for 939 yards, the most among all NFL rookies, and four touchdowns.

Pierce is the Texans’ most dangerous and productive offensive player on a 1-11-1 team. He runs with a punishing running style. Just ask Hooker.

The fourth-round draft pick from Florida has four games with 75 rushing yards and one touchdown this season, the most since retired Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster had five in 2014.

Not having Pierce in the red zone impacted the Texans’ play-calling and effectiveness.

“It affected quite a bit,” Smith said. “First-and-goal inside the five, the plan would’ve been a little bit different, but nobody wants to hear about injuries. We’ve had quite a few. If Dameon would’ve been healthy and ready to go, of course he would’ve been in there.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to KPRC2 and

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