After a 32-9 loss to the high-flying Birmingham Stallions, the Houston Roughnecks are sitting at 1-4 on the season, with one win over the 0-5 Arlington Renegades. In what seems to be the central question in their 2024 season, fans are left wondering how the 2023 Offensive Player of the Year will find his rhythm in this offense. Houston Gamblers fans know just how capable he is toting the rock, but in two weeks of action we’ve yet to see him leaned on as the feature bell-cow back we know he can be.

While it’s reasonable to think his usage is being limited as he’s returned from an offseason knee sprain, his role in this offense has been minimal. In his first game back in Week 4, he had 9 rushes for 34 yards and a touchdown.

The coaching staff understandably working his way back into the lineup alongside TJ Pledger, who had 10 rushes for 31. It was a good showing as they took home their first win of the season, and headed into the Week 5 matchup I was hoping they’d set him loose to break down the Stallions D.

It’s an amateur move to sit on the couch and tell the TV to “establish the run”, but as the Stallions offense mounted points it was clear the gameplan shifted away from the ground game almost entirely. Thompson finished with just 4 touches for 11 yards, and 2 receptions for 11 yards as well. He followed TJ Pledger, who had 6 rushes for 15, and 4 receptions for 15.

The game plan clearly became to let Reid Sinnett’s arm keep them in the game, and it’s hard to pound the rock playing from behind. But while this team has been in every game they’ve played up to this point, playing from behind has been a central theme, and I wonder how the team is planning on setting their most valuable offensive weapon loose.

Though Sinnett was relieved by Nolan Henderson by the end of game, he’s provided steady play under center, and I think with the right balance, they could find an offensive identity between the two. Whether that means committing to the run more often and keeping the play action threat, or getting him more involved in the passing game where we know he can be a screen threat, I think all Houston fans are hoping to see more of him in coming weeks.

Thompson led the USFL with 655 yards and 14 touchdowns last season in Curtis Johnson’s offense, and I’m looking forward to see how they get him more involved.

author avatar
Matthew Nagashima
Matt Nagashima has been covering Spring Football with News Hub since the XFL's 2019 Draft, and received Press Credentials to cover the Dallas Renegades in 2020. He has also covered the NFL with Pro Football Doc, and received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Colorado State University.

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