Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Foster is the bell cow for Houston

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Joe Biddle

Any NFL team with playoff goals has to have important individual pieces.

On offense, you have to have a solid quarterback who can make all the throws and read defenses.

You can say what you want about Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's heard it all. He's an interception waiting to happen. Runs with the speed of a turtle with a sprained knee. (Do turtles have knees?).

You also need a bell cow running back. The Texans rely on former Tennessee running back Arian Foster. He is a game-changer.

Foster is not afraid to stick his nose in a would-be tackler's chest. He was that way as a Vol. He hasn't changed now that he is running into NFL players.

Foster scored on a 34-yard run in the second quarter of Sunday's 30-9 win over the Titans. He came back in the third quarter and caught a five-yard pass from Fitzpatrick. That put the Texans up 20-3. It would be all the points Houston would need.

But Foster wasn't ready to clock out for the day. Foster added a one-yard touchdown run with 5:42 left in the third quarter. It served as insurance, with a 27-3 lead.

Foster filled the stat sheet Sunday.

He led all players with 151 yards rushing on 20 trips through the Titans defense. He averaged 7.6 yards a carry. He added four receptions for another 22 yards.

"He's an important part of the offense," Texans Coach Bill O'Brien said of Foster, who missed a game earlier in the season with a hamstring injury. "I think he has a pretty good idea of what he can and can't do during a week. We talk a lot, he and I, about how much he can practice.

"Usually with guys like him and Andre Johnson, we give them maybe Wednesday (off) and then Thursday they ramp it up and then Friday kind of taper down, especially during this time of the year and he's done that. I think that's helped him."

You couldn't tell Foster was anything but at full speed.

Defensive end J.J. Watt wants Foster to get every yard he can.

"I think when he is rolling and he is playing at that level that he has played at, he is a very good back and our team rolls with it. Three touchdowns is a heck of a game,'' Watt said.

"Obviously it's great for us as a defense because we get a breather."

Fitzpatrick enjoys the view from his vantage point. Stick the football in Foster's hands, step back and watch.

"I've played with some great backs and he's unbelievable," Fitzpatrick said. "It's a fun thing to watch as a quarterback, to hand it off and be back there, seeing what he's seeing and the cuts that he makes.

"He's a very powerful runner, too. He's not just the finesse back, but he does a great job with the zone scheme stuff."

Foster was an undrafted free agent in 2009, when the former Vols back was overlooked in the draft.

He scored the first of his three touchdowns against the Titans on a classic 34-yard run in which he took the handoff, ran a few steps to the left, found it crowded and reversed field.

He went down the right sidelines and beat everyone to the end zone.

"It was pretty sweet," Fitzpatrick said. "Sometimes I don't know how he sees what he sees. He's a very special player."

Evidently 32 NFL teams failed to see that.

Contact Wilson Post Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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