HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – The most notable storyline for the 2015 Houston Texans has been who will assume the starting quarterback duties between Brian Hoyer and incumbent Ryan Mallett. But after a training camp groin injury to star running back Arian Foster, who will join the new Texan signal caller in the backfield as the primary runner in Foster’s absence.
On Saturday night in the first pre-season game of 2015 against the San Francisco 49ers, second-year back Alfred Blue was tapped as the leader of the running back core. Blue finished the game with nine carries for 59 yards including a long 32 yard scamper on the Texans second drive of the game in a 23-10 Texans victory.
“I was really embracing the role tonight and just going out there and knowing what I had to do,” Blue said. “Just relax, be calm and play the game.”
The running backs as a whole played well for the Texans to the tune of 146 total rushing yards. With the timetable for Foster’s return still uncertain, a positive night from the running back core is a good takeaway from the game as they look to ease the worries of Texans fans about the position.
“I think we flashed and dashed out there a little bit, eased the coaching staff, but that decision is still up to the coaching staff whether we came up today standing or not in the run game tonight, Blue said.
The former LSU back spent time with Foster in the offseason, OTA’s and the early stages of training camp, preparing to be a much more integral part of the offense. Blue said that Foster urged him to focus on letting the game slow down for him.
“Having patience and letting the blocks develop for you and let it come and don’t be too fast out there,” Blue added. “We call it false daylight in the backfield. You just got to let the play develop and be patient.”
The difference between the first and second season for Blue has made a big difference which head coach Bill O’Brien expected.
“These guys that are in their second year, you’re expected them to take a little bit of a jump,” O’Brien said. “Him going in there and having a decent run here and there was a good thing.”
The one issue for the running back core was in a goal line situation on their second drive where they had seven attempts from inside the 5 yard line and could not get the ball into the end zone.
“Goal line you’ve got to have it,” Blue said. “It’s one of those things, like as a runner, you know you’ve got to have it when you’re number is called you’ve got to get in there.”
Coach O’Brien echoed Blue’s frustration when he was asked in the post game press conference about the goal line stand.
“I didn’t feel real good about that. I don’t think the players did either,” O’Brien said. “We have seven shots—give San Francisco credit there. They stopped us. That’s an area where we have to get better.”
It may be early to pencil in Blue as the heir to the starting running back position. However, if his play on Saturday is any indication to how he plays in 2015, he will keep Fosters throne plenty warm for him when he’s healthy to return.
Alex Del Barrio can be heard on Saturday afternoons with Matt Murphy from 3-7 pm on Sportsradio 610. Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio