Arian Foster is undoubtedly the greatest running back in Houston Texans history. But as Foster inches closer to the age of 30 (he’ll be 29 in late August), the Texans need to think about managing the veteran running back’s workload in order to get the most out of him. And to do that, they’ll need to find him a worth running mate.
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The Texans selected LSU running back Alfred Blue in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Although Blue managed to gain 528 rushing yards and two touchdowns in relief of Foster, the overall conscience seems to be he isn’t the answer as Foster’s possible replacement.
And let’s face it, Foster is a hard act to follow. The two-time first team NFL All-Pro running back recorded 1,246 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in only 13 games last season. It was enough to led Houston to a 9-7 regular season record and garner him his fourth Pro Bowl appearance.
But Foster has had his issues, specifically with injuries. In fact, he has missed 11 games in the past two seasons. And as Foster steadily creeps towards age 30, you can probably expect more missed time…unless the Texans manage his workload better, And that’s exactly what head coach Bill O’Brien plans to do.
"“I think any time a player reaches that age of 30 or close to that age of 30, and you know that the guy can still play, you know that he is a very talented player,” O’Brien said at the NFL Scouting Combine over the weekend. “Arian is a very talented guy in a lot of phases. He can run the ball, he can catch the ball, he’s a good pass protector, he’s a smart football player, but you’ve got to manage him. How do you manage that? You manage him in practice. You manage him in the games.”"
Although there are plenty of worthy names heading into free agency next month that could do an admirable job running besides Foster this upcoming season, I believe O’Brien and his staff will look to a deep running back class in the draft in order to find the answer.
Possessing the 16th overall pick, the Texans could easily be in the running for one of the top two half back prospects in the draft, Georgia’s Todd Gurely or Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. More than likely though, Houston will attempt to find a better value later in the draft when running backs like Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Indiana’s Tevin Coleman Maimi’s Duke Johnson or Boise State’s Jay Ajayi are on the board.
Regardless of who they select or sign, one thing is clear for the Houston Texans. The days of relying solely on Foster’s legs to win games offensively are numbered. Managing his workload and finding Arian a proper running mate will certainly extend that number.