Arian Foster might be back sooner than expected


Dec 21, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Arian Foster left the very first padded practice on a cart with a groin injury. This news wasn’t surprising given his long soft tissue injury history but that doesn’t make it any easier on a team that decided to not find an adequate backup running back. Houston Texans Owner Bob McNair made headlines with his comments about his All-Pro running back expected to miss time.

Arian Foster was expected to get surgery to repair his undisclosed injury right away. He received a couple of medical opinions on him, but nobody from the Houston Texans organization has directly stated what his procedure is. The only thing for certain is that Arian Foster has had some kind of procedure.

The surgery was done in Philadelphia last Friday by Dr. William Myers. The vast majority of NFL reporters, including ESPN’s Texans beat writer Tania Ganguli and the NFL’s Ian Rapoport, believe the surgery will certain land him on the PUP list. The goal of the surgery is to “re-attach the groin muscle to the bone”, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

When it comes to sports related groin injuries, there are two primary procedures. The surgery John McClain suggested is an Adductor Groin Surgery or Adductor Release surgery. This surgery snips the tendon in order to detach it from the bone. This relieves pressure and discomfort from the groin because it is not holding onto the bone. The tendon is reattached in the same procedure and then the tendon heals to the tissue around the area. The next step is a long rehabilitation process and would sideline Arian Foster for 6-8 weeks, but it would be safer to sideline him for a couple additional weeks so he is fully healthy for the rest of the year.

If this is the case, the Texans will be forced to either put Arian Foster on the Injured Reserved List with Designation to Return (PUP) by September 6th or just have him sit out for a couple games. The PUP list means that a player may not practice for the first six weeks and not play in the first eight games. Players must be put on the list right before week 1 of the regular season, so it is likely the Texans won’t decide his 2015 future for a couple weeks. Even if/when he is put on the PUP list, it doesn’t assure that he will be back in week 8.

The second primary procedure for groin injuries is a sports hernia surgery. This makes more sense to do according to Dr. David Chao, but contradicts John McClain’s original report of “re-attaching the muscle to the bone”. If it is indeed a sports hernia problem, it would be a much better outlook on Arian Foster’s 2015 outlook. If this was the case, it would still require a surgery, a surgery that Dr. William Myers would be very familiar with. Last offseason, he preformed on Ja’Deveon Clowney and has a huge track record of successful sports hernia injuries.

The sports hernia surgery would sideline him 4-6 weeks after last Friday’s procedure. This is much better news for Texans fans and fantasy football addicts (me included). If so, Arian Foster would in all likelihood avoid the dreaded PUP list and only miss the preseason and a few regular season games unless the team wants to take a very conservative route.

Either way, Arian Foster does not look like he will be out for 3 months like the original estimate was. The Texans still have not announced if it was a sports hernia surgery (4-6 weeks) or the adductor groin surgery (6-8 weeks). The Texans will have to decide to place Arian Foster on the PUP list by September 6th in both cases. 

The way the Texans have reacted to his injury is inline with the shorter recovery time. Even though there are multiple veteran free agent running backs, the Texans have been unwilling to sign any of the notable free agents since Foster went down. Pierre Thomas was brought into Houston for a tryout, but the Texans offered him the veteran minimum. The contract offer was an insult to Pierre Thomas, who said he wouldn’t play for less than $2m.

The Texans would almost certainly want to upgrade their current running back situation if Arian Foster was out 3 plus months. Alfred Blue was dead last in yards per carry (3.1) last season (minimum 120 carries) behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. Jonathan Grimes is no more than a change of pace back with above average hands. Chris Polk is unproven (only 57 carries) but provides the Texans with the most upside. Kenny Hilliard was the Texans 7th round pick and it would be an underdog story if he emerged in the interim.

For fantasy football purposes, Arian Foster is worth the gamble in the 6th to 8th round, as he could only be out 2-4 weeks of the regular season. Of course he will remain an injury risk as always, but he has the volume and talent to win a fantasy championship if all goes well.

Next: Digging Into The Stats: Arian Foster