Houston Texans: Five reasons to watch versus the 49ers

3 of 4

Dec 21, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Alfred Blue (28) rushes during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Number Three – The running backs

With star running back Arian Foster sidelined following groin surgery, the team needs to find someone to step up and lead the charge in the running game. The Texans visited with Pierre Thomas, but elected not to sign the veteran running back.

Instead, the team will let the guys on the roster battle it out to see who emerges as the starter until Foster returns. The backs are Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes, Chris Polk and rookie Kenny Hilliard.

Blue carried the ball 169 times for 528 yards and two scores while playing all 16 games with three starts while Foster was hurt last season. It was impressive for a sixth round pick, but the low 3.1 yard per carry average doesn’t guarantee him the job this year.

He will have to fight off his former teammate Hilliard, who is turning heads with his solid camp as well as Grimes who helps a lot on special teams as well and the coaches are high on.

The dark horse no one seems to remember is Chris Polk, who spent three seasons backing up LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia before coming to Houston. A degenerative shoulder condition scared teams away from Polk after a college career that saw him net 4,049 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns. He showed burst and great vision in Philly, but never saw much time behind the superstar McCoy.

The game tonight will go a long way in telling which of these four guys is the top back while Foster heals up. The belief seems to be that Blue is in the lead, but a great showing by any of the others could shift momentum in a snap.

Next: The return game and defense