Keep Calm and Carry the Ball: Foster Returns to the Texans
Photo by Marco Torres
Preseason football is a fascinating and often frustrating portion of the year. On one hand, there is intrigue and discussion. After a long season of the Astros sucking yet again, it's a welcome relief to see guys in pads knocking the crap out of each other in the blistering heat of summer.
On the other hand, the amount of speculation and analysis is ridiculous. Everyone from sports radio to ESPN has an opinion, and with no real games being played yet, you can damn sure bet you'll hear it.
I've never been a fan of speculating on player injuries or what is happening in practice or the locker room. We don't know. We'll probably never know. But still we talk. And besides the topic everyone loves to discuss -- who will win the backup quarterback job (sigh) -- the number one topic during this training camp and preseason has been Arian Foster.
Foster carried the ball more than any other back in the league last year. In league history, most players who do that end up struggling the next season. Some never have a fully productive year after that point. When Foster suffered a minor calf injury, there was concern, but when it was learned he was dealing with back pain that required (or stemmed from...no one is really talking about it) injections, the panic alarm went off like an air raid siren.
He was even placed on the dreaded Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and sat out both of the Texans' first preseason games. There was talk -- from media and fans, not the Texans -- that he might miss the start of the season.
Well, on Wednesday, Foster returned to practice and sounded a little annoyed to be bothered with questions about his back and his workload.
"You guys pressing Coach for answers and him giving answers that he doesn't know 100 percent what's going on," he said. "I know my body. I knew it wasn't a huge issue. I just had to give it time. Before the season, y'all are thirsty for news, so it's one of those stories."
The reality is, Arian Foster is closer to 30 than 20 and backs in the NFL tend to slow down as they approach and pass the age of 30. So, it shouldn't be a shock that a guy who ran the ball as much as he did last year has some issues. It also shouldn't shock anyone if he doesn't carry the ball 300 times for 1,800 yards. That's just football.
Thankfully, the real games begin in just about three weeks and we can go back to talking about what happens on the field instead of the training room. For now, we can stick with Antonio Smith flinging his helmet at Richie Incognito and whether or not Dustin Keller's mangled knee is evidence that D.J. Swearinger is a dirty player (it isn't and he's not). Double sigh.