Arian Foster: Carrying The Load

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Foster is on pace for over 400 carries, can he maintain this pace?

For a team with a good backup running back, the Texans starter is carrying the ball at a record rate. Arian Foster is currently on pace for 412 carries this season; a number that carries a lot of risk. Foster's previous high in carries is 327 from the 2010 season. Over the last ten seasons, only Larry Johnson carried the ball more times than what Foster is on pace for.

2011 Maurice Jones-Drew - 343
2010 Michael Turner - 334
2009 Chris Johnson - 358
2008 Michael Turner - 376
2007 Clinton Portis - 325
2006 Larry Johnson - 416
2005 Shaun Alexander - 370
2004 Curtis Martin - 371
2003 Ricky Williams - 392
2002 Ricky Williams - 383

In 2006 Larry Johnson played all 16 games and rushed for 1,789 yards on 4.3 yards per carry, and 17 touchdowns. The following season in 2007, Johnson played in just eight games, rushed for 559 yards on 3.5 yards per carry, and had only three touchdowns. No matter how great an athlete is, overuse can effect their following season and shorten their career. In baseball you see the same thing with pitchers who throw too many innings. In 2003 Roy Halladay threw 266 innings (27 higher than his previous high), winning 22 games with a 3.25 ERA over 36 starts. In the following season in 2004 Halladay pitched 133 innings, winning 8 games with a 4.20 ERA over 21 starts. Like a pitch count in baseball, running backs need a carry count to keep them healthy over a full season. There is a reason why more teams have gone to more running by committee than one feature back that carries the ball 30 times a game. Giving your star back a heavy workload in a close game or when fighting for the playoffs is understandable, but Foster is getting multiple carries in the 2nd half of blow out games; Ben Tate and Justin Forsett should be splitting those carries.

I assume that Kubiak and the Texans coaching staff will notice this number and lessen Foster's workload a little and by the end of the season he'll fall under 400 carries. Though I can't help but ask why Foster is still in the game when leading 28-7 with under six minutes left in the fourth quarter? Same goes with Schaub who hasn't been pulled when just handing off the ball in the fourth quarter; can't Yates do that? Didn't Schaub get hurt last year with the game already out of hand vs. Tampa Bay? It's a simple fix, which also makes it very frustrating.

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