The Offense Depends on Foster
Before his back injury that ended his 2013 season, Arian Foster was averaging his highest yard per rush average since 2010. Foster is deemed healthy and looked good during mini-camps and OTAs. He showed no ill effects from the back surgery and did not miss a single day of team workouts. Foster has developed a strong relationship with Head Coach Bill O’Brien and it looks like Foster’s versatility will be used once again. Running and catching the football out of the backfield is what makes Foster special in his big seasons with the Texans. The offense will depend on Foster to make the group better and this is a big season for him to prove that he can be what he once was, the top back in the NFL.
The Texans signed former New York Giants running back Andre Brown this past offseason and he will have to prove he can put together a healthy season. Brown could be a change of pace back that takes some carries off of Foster’s plate, but he is going to have to be able to catch the ball consistently out of the backfield. Despite being signed as the veteran presence for the backfield, Brown has to prove he can be more than just a runner for a team that values versatility.
Rookie running back Alfred Blue has been a pleasant surprise in early practices with the Texans despite being a 6th round draft pick. He has the size, speed and hands that make him a solid fit for the offensive system. Blue is coming in as an unproven quantity from LSU, but played on special teams which will give him the right mentality to prove he belongs with the Texans.
Veteran Jonathan Grimes and second year player Dennis Johnson are just as much in the mix as Brown and Blue. Grimes, in his second stint with the Texans, has shown he can run the ball when needed in an NFL game and produce on special teams. He catches the ball with ease, which is slowly turning into a must needed skill with this group.
Johnson learned the game on the run last season after he arrived from Arkansas as a rookie free agent. He was pushed into game action and struggled at times to make a difference. Johnson is going to have to improve his running ability and making defenders miss in open field. Consider the current running back depth chart open for the taking behind Foster.
Fullbacks Are the Throwbacks
Look no further than the Texans Jay Prosch to be the starter when he was taken in the 6th round out of Auburn. Head Coach Bill O’Brien pointed out the fullback makes the team better and will be instantly inserted into the offense and special teams. Prosch will bring back a true
fullback since the 2011 season and the hard nosed mentality that has been missed for the offense.
Toben Opurum and Brad Smelley made position changes from last season and will be competing for a look when camp breaks. Both will have a learning curve and when the pads are put on for camp it will help get a better feel if both of them can handle the new position of lead blocking.