By now, you’ve probably heard about Arian Foster’s groin injury. Foster has been injury plagued most of his football career, so his injury isn’t much of a surprise, though it does throw a wrench in many draft day plans. Not to mention being a huge setback for the Houston Texans. Alfred Blue, Foster’s backup, is also currently suffering his own injury woes after being carted off the field during Mondays practice. Though Blue’s injuries don’t seem to be as serious, Blue has yet to show any real promise as a feature back. Even third string running back Chris Polk is dealing with a hamstring issue.
So where does this leave the Texans? The Free Agency has been pretty picked over, but there are a few running backs left that might interest the Texans. Some big names left are Steven Jackson, Pierre Thomas, Chris Johnson, Knowshon Moreno and Ben Tate.
Steven Jackson made some noise after his release from the Atlanta Falcons, advocating for running back rights and the decline of the feature back.
Unfortunately for him, his video has seen more appreciation than his pedigree. He’s yet to find a team so far this season, though he expressed a lot of interest in playing for the Dallas Cowboys. In my opinion his age is his biggest hindrance in finding a new team. While he may find a role on a team as a back up, it’s unlikely that he will find work with the Texans.
I was personally pulling for Pierre Thomas. He’s one of the most talented running backs left unsigned. In his eight seasons with The Saints he racked up over 3,700 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. He’s also one of the most successful pass catching backs in the league. He’s a great committee running back, and would bring a lot of talent to The Texans. Unfortunately, Thomas and The Texans were unable to come to an agreement. The rumor is that Thomas is holding out for more money. He’ll end on a team come regular season, but the jury is still out on which team that will be.
Chris Johnson was tossed around as an option to replace Foster. While Johnson had some explosive seasons early in his career his last season was pretty dismal. In fact, it was his first season where he failed to reach 1000 yards in a season. However Johnson has proven himself in the past, including rushing over 2000 yards in 2009. More appealing to The Texans perhaps is his durability. In seven seasons, he’s only missed one game. With Thomas currently out of the running, Johnson is the front runner to get the job.
A dark horse for a contract is Knowshon Moreno. He joined The Dolphins after his best season for The Denver Broncos, and Moreno came into last season guns blazing. He was averaging 4.8 yards per carry before suffering a season ending injury. While his injury woes would be worrisome for The Texans, his ability on the field is impressive. It’s possible that a committee role would actually be more beneficial for Moreno by limiting his touches. While it’s a long shot for Moreno to earn himself a spot on the roster, his abilities are not to be overlooked.
Ben Tate is entering this season unsigned. In spite of that, Tate has been hitting the gym, and keeping in shape. Tate would be an easy fit for The Texans as he served as Foster’s understudy for three seasons. Tate left The Texans to be the feature back with the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately that failed to work out for both parties. After that he went from the Minnesota Vikings, to the Pittsburgh Steelers where he averaged 3.8 YPC. Tate is still young with plenty of tread left on the tires and is already familiar with the Houston offense, so it makes sense that he would be considered to fill the void left by Foster.
I expect the Houston Texans will make a move sooner rather than later with the 2015 season fast approaching, right now my favorite for the job is still Pierre Thomas, but we’ll see what the future holds.