By DEEPI SIDHU, SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – Fourth-year running back Ben Tate “needs to have a good offseason,” according to Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.

“Obviously, he steps up today and works as the starter, but Ben’s been working good either way. He’s had a really good offseason; he’s been here every day, and it’s an opportunity for him this next six practices to be the bell cow, so to speak, and that’ll be good for him in the long run,” Kubiak said after OTA practice Wednesday.

With starting running back Arian Foster hobbling around on crutches and out until training camp with a calf sprain, Tate will be getting the lion’s share of reps during the team’s OTAs.  Entering the final season of his contract, Tate has a big year ahead of him coming off a lackluster performance in 2012.

“It’s a big one. It’s my last year of my contract. It’s always a big one. Ever year is a big year though,” said Tate. “My main focus is coming in and getting better everyday, getting better every single day and doing whatever I can, whatever the coaches ask me to do to help this team take the next step.”

Tate, who missed his rookie season in 2010 with an ankle injury, missed five games last season with hamstring and toe issues.  Coach Kubiak has just one goal above all else for Tate.

“I just want him to be healthy, that’s the biggest thing. When Ben’s on the field, he’s productive. He needs to have a good offseason, which he’s doing his part and he’s done all of that. Obviously, now his reps are going to pick up, but to me, if Ben’s in one piece, Ben is going to be very productive for this team.”

Tate logged just 279 yards rushing, 49 yards receiving, and two touchdowns in 2012 over the 11 games he played.  Tate’s 2011 season was much brighter with 942 yards rushing with 5.4 yards per rush for four touchdowns. Tate would rather forget 2012 and start anew this offseason.

“I’m moving on now.  It’s a new year. If I do great this year, everyone is gonna forget about last year.  That’s all that really matters, what’s ahead of you not behind you.”