I can't prove it, but it's worth arguing that Texans running back Arian Foster broke down last season due in part to how often he was asked by former head coach Gary Kubiak to carry the offense during the previous three seasons. After averaging more than 370 touches per season from 2010-12, a balky back limited Foster to just eight games last year. He says he is "raring to go for 2014, and he better be because a lot will be put on his plate.
Texans head coach Bill O'Brien recently compared Foster to Kevin Faulk and Danny Woodhead in his ability to catch passes. O'Brien coached those two players while he was with the Patriots. O'Brien said "it looks like definitely Arian will be able to do that and more.
"What the most important thing to do is to make sure that you look at the player's skill set and figure out how they fit your system, or our system," O'Brien said, "and so what we do is when we have a back that is a three-down back as Arian is, a guy that can play on first, second and third down, then you're finding ways to incorporate him into the passing game and the running game and it really works out well for your offense."
That Foster will be used often in the passing game isn't a revelation by any means; he averaged 53 catches per year during those three "healthy" seasons. And I certainly don't blame O'Brien for thinking this way; the Texans aren't flush with outstanding, proven receivers, and their No. 1 stud, Andre Johnson , is an unhappy 32-year-old. It's just another hint that Foster might flirt with 400 touches again. You need to feel comfortable with assuming the significant injury risk that he brings if you are going to draft Foster in the first round or two, but it's difficult to put into words how productive he could be if he plays a full schedule.