The Houston Texans may be the best team in the NFL through the first quarter of the 2012 NFL season. They have one of the most dominating defenses in the league and arguably the best running back as well in Arian Foster. While Texans head coach has said that Foster could handle becoming the fifth member of the 400+ carries club for one NFL season, he would be making a huge mistake to not limit Foster’s carries at least by a little bit going forward.
Foster is a beast. He can pick up the tough yards inside, go outside and burst one for 8o yards or catch a short screen pass and take it the distance for a touchdown coming out of the backfield. Simply out, he is that good. He will be a major part of Houston’s Super Bowl aspirations for years to come, but Kubiak could lower those odds by running Foster into the ground.
Five running backs have taken on at least 400 carries in a season. Those five are James Wilder, Eric Dickerson, Jamal Anderson, Eddie George and Larry Johnson. All had spectacular years when they ran the ball more than 400 times, but all five suffered over the following couple of seasons. In fact, many of them were never the same again.
Between injuries and overall wear and tear from rushing so often in one season, all five players probably lost at least a year or more off of their careers from being used so much in one season. Why would Kubiak possibly want to do the same to Foster, who is still just 26-years-old?
“He can handle it, I know that,” said Kubiak. “You never know how the season’s gonna go, and what it’s gonna take to win each week. We’re giving Arian some breaks at practice during the course of the week, but he looks fine to me.”
Just because a person can handle something does not mean that they should have to endure it at the same time. Foster may be receiving more carries as of late due to the injuries of Ben Tate right now, but Kubiak must find a way to get another back more involved and begin to limit Foster’s carries in each game. Just because he is getting some rest in practice does not make the fact any better that he is currently on pace for 412 carries this season.
In the 2010 season, Foster only had four games where he had more than 24 carries and none of those games were in consecutive weeks. In 2011, he had four 24+ carry games in the regular season, but six total games when you include the playoffs. Those games came on back-to-back weeks on two different occasions counting the regular season and the playoffs.
But to start the 2012 season, Foster already has four 24+ carry games, meaning he has done that in each game to start the year. His yards-per-carry has declined from 2010, dropping from 4.9  to 4.4  and just 3.7 to start this season. It appears as if the heavy workload could already be taking its’ toll on Foster.
The Texans gave Foster a well deserved five year contract extension worth over $43 million prior to the 2012 season. At this point, if Kubiak does not let up off the gas pedal, there is absolutely no way that Foster will ever live to see the end of this deal with the Texans. He will have been run completely into the ground by year three at this current pace.