Heading into the 2012 season, the Texans would have received plenty of consideration for the NFL’s most talented backfield.
Arian Foster is arguably the NFL’s most complete back, and backup Ben Tate came within 58 yards of giving the Texans a pair of 1,000 yard rushers, which has been done just six times in league history.
A healthy tandem of Foster and Tate was expected to pick up where it left off in ‘11, perhaps putting the Texans in position to trade Tate after the season to a squad looking for a starting tailback capable of wearing down defenses.
Foster has done his part, leading the league in TDs and ranking in the top five in rushing yards.
Yet, Tate, after dealing with a toe injury earlier in the season, is again nicked, this time with a hamstring, and the whispers are getting louder about him being a back that can’t stay out of the training room.
As one source explains it, some guys are regularly nicked up and can play through the health issues. Tate, on the other hand, has not demonstrated that ability during his young career.
The source added that Tate makes sure the local media knows when he is at less than 100 percent.
With Tate’s hamstring expected to sideline him at least this Sunday — and perhaps beyond — sparkplug Justin Forsett, who has averaged 5.2 yards per carry in a limited role, will spell Foster, though the Texans lose some of their smashmouth identity with the 5-8, 194-pounder, who can’t run between the tackles like Foster and Tate.
Houston this week claimed undrafted rookie Jonathan Grimes off the Jets’ practice squad, and Grimes will have a chance to contribute, as well — initially on special teams, we hear.
Grimes was in camp with the Texans, and we hear he made a very positive impression on the coaching staff. But Houston was not in position to keep four backs, and Grimes was quickly picked up by New York upon his release.
Tate was never a candidate to be traded until after the season, thus his diminishing value means very little to the Texans at the moment.
Of a lot greater concern is the fact that the Texans, who rely so heavily on grinding the clock with a balanced rushing attack, are one Foster hit away from Justin Forsett being the lead horse in the backfield.