After he underwent back surgery in the midst of a cursed season, there are a lot of legitimate questions about what the Houston Texans can expect from Arian Foster in 2014. Even though Foster has been cleared to return to action, will he be the same player he was from 2010 to 2012? If he doesn't resemble the Arian of old, his contract could easily make him a cap casualty in 2015.
And how will Arian fit in Bill O'Brien's offense? Foster was tailor made for Gary Kubiak's zone scheme, but O'Brien is unlikely to run as much zone as Kubes did. Will that make Foster expendable?
Fair questions all, and we won't know the answers until the season arrives. In the meantime, however, we can scrutinize Arian Foster's remarks at a recent off-field appearance for insight into some of those issues:
Foster has recovered from back surgery, and he’s been participating in the offseason program as he prepares for his sixth season – one he hopes will be injury free.
"I’m back," Foster said. "I didn’t want it to happen. You can’t ever plan for something like that, but it’s just part of the game, and you have to deal with it."
"So far, I really like it," Foster said about the system that’s being installed by O’Brien and quarterbacks coach George Godsey. "It’s very versatile.
"Coach O’Brien has expressed to me how he wants to use me out of the backfield. That’s one of my strengths."
During an era in which a lot of teams are using a running back-by-committee approach, the Texans have the luxury of a three-down back in Foster, who led the NFL with 17 touchdowns, including 15 rushing, in 2012 when they won a second consecutive AFC South title.
"We still have a lot of zone runs in this offense, (but) every offense does," Foster said. "We’re going to have a lot of different alignments."
The Texans' refusal to consistently utilize Foster more in the passing game, especially from 2012 onward, was one of the more mystifying traits of Gary Kubiak's offense. Hearing that Bill O'Brien plans to rectify that is promising. Now we just have to see (1) how Arian Foster looks doing it and (2) whether the Texans have a QB capable of making it happen.