Arian Foster=Running Game


Arian Foster hasn't lost anything from last season, including that chip on his shoulder.

"I'll die with that on me," he said Saturday night after he set a Texans preseason record with 110 yards on 18 carries and led the
Texans to a 23-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

As an undrafted free agent rookie last season, Foster spent 10 games on the Texans practice squad and when he was called up to the active roster he released all that pent up emotion on proving he was more than a practice player.

He had a strong finish and went into offseason drills as the starting running back. It didn't slow down his effort.

"They don't hand out starting running back jobs in the NFL every day," Foster said. "I wanted to make sure they were making the right decision. I came into this offseason trying to make the team. That was my mindset. Nothing changed. I just went to work.

"They told me I'd be running with the ones in OTAs and I didn't take that light-hearted."

There was nothing casual about his performance against the Cowboys.

His 110-yard performance was the first by a Texans running back in preseason.

"I did not know that, that's pretty cool," he said.

What Foster did to the Cowboys started late last season. Foster emerged from the team's practice squad last season and finished fourth on the team with 257 rushing yards. He got his first NFL carry in Week 13 against Seattle and finished with 34 yards on 13 carries and added four receptions for 54 yards.

He rushed 99 yards against Miami in a game that kept the Texans in the playoff pool and he capped his season with a 119-yard, two touchdown performance against New England in the season finale.

Foster is still clawing like he did trying to get off the practice squad.

"The hunger is still there but I'm more knowledgeable of the system," Foster said. "I feel more comfortable out there. I felt comfortable last year but when you've got a year under your belt you get a little more adapted to the speed of the game. I go out and play like every play is my last and my first too."

The Texans line had a good plan for the game.

{QUOTE}"Arian is running really well, he's got his cuts back," right tackle Eric Winston said. "I told him to just bring 16 of them and we'll be
OK. We were trying to get a body on a body and get some separation in the middle there. They were playing pretty basic. I think we'll see their full defense in the third game. Arian was just doing a good job of finding his cuts.

"When it was time to bounce he bounced it right and when it was time to cut, he cut it back."

Left tackle Duane Brown liked the way the offensive line and Foster worked together.

"We had a good game plan going into this week, practicing against their looks," Brown said. "They played it exactly like we thought
they would. We just did a good job of working off each other with our combo blocks. It turned out good.

"The front side did a good job as well as the back side cutting off those linemen and Arian did a great job of finding the holes and
making the right cuts when he needed to."

Foster was pleased to see the improved running game after a bad performance against the New Orleans Saints a week ago.

"That's what happens when we execute the offense and everybody is doing his job," Foster said. "We didn't have a choice (about
improving)man. We made some mistakes that we have to go back to work and correct. We've got to take this win with humility and keep going to work."

There were compliments all around for his blocking mates.

"Those guys are the hogs up front," Foster said. "It's a privilege to be running behind them. They are good doing the job week in and week out. I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to get the linemen to the Pro Bowl this year."

Foster's late season showing earned him a strong shot at the starting running back position this season and he doesn't seem inclined to give it up. He's made a believer of coach Gary Kubiak.

"He hadn't had many touches but he's been averaging over 5 yards a carry in the preseason so he's been doing some good stuff," Kubiak said. "He got some extended carries tonight. I love his conditioning. He can hold up and he carried the ball a lot and he helps us in the passing game. He's got a chance to be a fine player for us.

"It's about growing up and he stepped up and he said I'm ready to go tonight."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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