Speed makes Texans’ Foster special

It’s time to start taking Arian Foster seriously.

Foster didn’t get into last week’s game until midway through the second quarter, but it didn’t stop him from nearly leading the league in rushing for the league’s top rushing team. Yes, that’s the Texans. Their offensive line is very good, especially at run blocking. With Foster, Derrick Ward and Steve Slaton, they have three backs capable of running behind that line.

What stands out about Foster, though, is his speed. His first touch of the game went 74 yards for a touchdown, a play in which the offensive line blocked perfectly. He then outran Raiders safety Michael Huff, a former first-round pick, to the end zone. Foster has flat-out speed.

It’s one thing to find a free agent who is tough, has balance and has vision to get through the hole. But not many free agents can go 74 yards for a touchdown.

You can’t discount Foster in the passing game, either. He went 31 yards on a swing route in which he made a linebacker fall out of his cleats and juked a safety. He has 11 catches this season and is averaging 13.8 yards per reception. He can stay on the field and the Texans don’t have to take him out of the game on third downs.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that Foster isn’t a fluke.

I don’t know why so many teams missed on Foster. He came out of a big-time program at Tennessee, which has put its share of prominent running backs into the league over the years. Foster has seen significant action in seven NFL games, and has four 100-yard games to his credit. That includes back-to-back 100-yard games against the Cowboys and Raiders, who aren’t the worst defenses in football by any means. Foster is averaging over 6.0 yards per carry this season.

No doubt, Foster’s success is also a credit to the Texans’ offensive line. Playing without leading receiver Andre Johnson on the road against a nasty Raiders team, the Texans benched the league’s leading rusher — and they still looked to run the ball and control the game. And they did. No one should be sleeping on Foster or the Texans.

— Brian Baldinger

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