It appears Texans star running back Arian Foster is a step closer to starting against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
The NFL’s reigning rushing champion practiced Thursday for the second day in row with no signs of a setback with his hamstring. Foster, of course, missed last week’s season opener due to the hamstring he re-aggravated three weeks ago during the Texans’ third preseason game.
“Much better. This was our work day, but he looked good,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said following Thursdays practice. “As long as everything’s smooth tomorrow, it should be ready to go.”
Foster said everything was positive with the hamstring during practice after bouncing back from Wednesday.
“I felt wonderful,” he said. “When I was running with the football, it felt really good, my hamstring did.”
The next hurdle is likely the mental aspect that comes with hamstring injuries. You tend to not really know how healed they are until you get into a live game situation where you are stop and starting and accelerating.
Foster had seemed to bounce back nicely after originally injuring the hamstring early in training camp. He missed the first preseason game, played well in the second before re-aggravating the hamstring during the San Francisco game.
“It’s more mental than anything getting back from an injury like that and today I took a huge step forward,” Foster said. “It felt good. I burst when I needed to burst without hesitation.”
Kubiak said there is no question having Foster back in the starting lineup gives the Texans a big boost despite the success of second-year running back Ben Tate, who ran for 116 yards and a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in his NFL debut.
“It’s huge. He puts us at our best,” Kubiak said of Foster. “He’s a heck of a player. When he’s back there, everybody’s pretty darn comfortable from a standpoint of what he can do for our football team.
“Hopefully everything goes smooth and he’s feeling good tomorrow and we’re ready to go and back at full strength.”
The prognosis may not be as good for running back Derrick Ward (ankle) and starting wide receiver Kevin Walter (bruised collarbone). Neither player practiced for a second straight day Thursday.
Jacoby Jones will start opposite Andre Johnson at receiver if Walter can’t go. Ward started last week against the Colts, but the Texans should be okay at running back with Foster and Tate carrying the load and Steve Slaton providing depth.
“I don’t know right now,” Kubiak said of either Walter or Ward’s availability for Sunday’s game. “I’d be surprised if either practiced tomorrow. That’s been the plan all week. They could both be available in a game without practice. That would not be a problem, but I think it’s going to be probably Saturday when that decision will probably be made, Saturday morning when we get them in here and look at them.
“They’re both doing pretty good. Kevin (Walter) was on the bike today moving his shoulders, so we’ll see.”