With Arian Foster sidelined by a calf injury for the rest of OTAs, Ben Tate gets a chance to work as the Texans' starting running back.
Foster was injured on Tuesday, the fourth practice of OTAs. He will not return until training camp. That gives Tate six practices, beginning on Wednesday, to work with the first-team offense as the team's top back.
"He steps up today and works as the starter, but Ben's been working good either way," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "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."
A second-round draft pick out of Auburn in 2010, Tate missed his rookie season with an ankle injury. He ran for 942 yards with a 5.4 average in 2011, forming the league's top rushing tandem with Foster. He missed five games last season with hamstring and toe injuries and finished third on the team with 279 yards on 65 carries (4.3 average).
"I just want him to be healthy; that's the biggest thing," Kubiak said. "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 said Wednesday that he views the extra reps as "not really a big deal" because it's just OTAs and not training camp or the season, and since he already knows what he's doing in the Texans' offense. But he's glad to get a chance to continue to work on his craft and views the 2013 season as "a big one."
"It's my last year of my contract," Tate said. "It's always a big one. Every year's a big year, though."
Tate said he's looking forward to showing what he can do in a healthy season.
"Injuries are a part of the game, but you do want to stay away from (them)," he said. "Unfortunately, last year I had a hamstring that kept me out for four games or so, but other than that, I'm moving on now. It's a new year. If I do great this year, everyone will forget about last year. That's all that really matters. It's what's ahead of you, not behind you."