One of the biggest dramas of training camp (and fantasy football season) this year will be who starts at running back for the Texans. The triumvirate of options include 2008 darling Steve Slaton, who was felled last year by a neck injury that may have had a lot to do with his struggles on the field, undrafted Arian Foster, who spelled Slaton at the end of last year and played a big part in getting the Texans over .500, and second round rookie Ben Tate, who Michael Lombardi feels is a legit rookie of the year candidate.
Coming into camp, running backs coach Chick Hearn says that Arian Foster is the starter. Chris over at Houston Diehards has handicapped the competition like so:
I still think Tate is gonna be the guy. Arian Foster might look great, but Ben Tate is the highest-drafted RB in Texans' history, and he'd be an ideal workhorse for the team. All he has to do is stay healthy, and do what he did in college... uh, but in the zone blocking scheme. Apparently he is adjusting well, so nothing to worry about there.â†µ
I do think that Tate is going to be the guy as well, but I'm not sure he is the guy from the get-go. Particularly because he struggled to stay healthy in OTA's, I think he might take a bit to adjust and completely learn the playbook. My guess is that he breaks in around the middle of the season, anywhere from Week 6 to Week 9. Until then, I think the smart money is on Foster to start. Partially because Gary Kubiak has a long memory, and partially because nobody can really be sure how Slaton is going to run until he gets back in contact drills.