Even though Arian Foster sat out the second half of Sunday's victory at Miami, Texans coach Gary Kubiak thinks his All-Pro running back is on the right track in his recovery from a left hamstring injury.
Foster did not run with the team on Monday after totaling 10 carries for 33 yards in Week 2 at Sun Life Stadium. It was his first game action since Aug. 27 in the preseason.
"I think we took the step that we were kind of expecting to take," Kubiak said. "Arian's missed a lot of time. He's coming off the hamstring. We knew going into the game we weren't going to play Arian 40, 50 plays. I talked about that last week. We were hoping to get him 10-15 carries. He ended up getting 10."
Kubiak said Foster told running backs coach Chick Harris at halftime on Sunday that his hamstring was "tightening up a little bit." That's when the Texans decided to roll with Ben Tate and Steve Slaton. Tate finished with 23 carries for 103 yards, including 82 yards in the second half.
Foster will be day-to-day this week as the 2-0 Texans prepare for a road game at New Orleans.
"He is a little sore today," Kubiak said. "We'll see where he's at Wednesday, but we're going to stay positive here. I think we took a step forward. I think it is going to be a process with Arian working himself back to full speed and carrying a full load. But we're going to keep a positive attitude moving forward and keep the process going. I think it was a step in the process."
Tate, a 2010 second-round pick from Auburn, has run for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games. After missing his rookie season with an ankle injury, he is now one of 11 players in NFL history with 100-plus rushing yards in the first two games of his career.
"He's playing really well," Kubiak said. "As we work Arian back into what we're doing and get him back to full speed, Ben's going to probably carry most of the load right now as we work forward with Arian. But he responded very well. He's getting better every time out, and yesterday I tell you what was most encouraging, he played his best football with about 10 minutes left in the game. So it's nice to see that. He's coming along."
The Texans view Foster as one of the best running backs in the league in terms of pass protection, an area in which Kubiak said Tate is improving.
Matt Schaub was sacked three times at Miami. Kubiak knows the Texans will face even more pressure from blitz-happy Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in Week 3.
"In the game yesterday, (Tate) had a couple of protection issues that he's got to get better at, but yet there were many that he was excellent at," Kubiak said. "I make the comment to him all the time, I've got to get the film to look the same throughout the whole game and then he's on his way. But he has made improvement in pass protection, and yes, we do trust him back there. The only way you're going to get better at that is to be on the field in crunch time, blitz time, those type of things.
"As of right now, he's going to be out there a great deal."
Running back Derrick Ward did not make the trip to Miami because of a sprained ankle. Kubiak said he would know more about Ward's status on Wednesday.