Tate (mostly) makes the most of his carries

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans running back Ben Tate did not get a single carry after a third-quarter fumble Sunday that led to a Seattle Seahawks' field goal.

At first he said he thought he was being punished, something that might have lingered even longer than just one game. Nobody hates fumbles more than coach Gary Kubiak.

But a conversation with Kubiak convinced him otherwise. Kubiak told him, as he told reporters on Monday, that he still had full confidence in Tate and the lack of carries was not a response to the fumble. It was a relief for Tate, who has otherwise made the most of his carries.

Last week I wrote about Tate having the most yards per rush after contact of any running back in the NFL. Well, as of this week, Tate has the most yards per rush overall. His yards per rush after contact, according to ESPN Stats &Information, is 3.9. That's slightly more than starter Arian Foster's yards per carry overall, 3.8, which would be a career low if it remains that way.

Foster has still maintained a bulk of the Texans' carries, but right now they are not running the ball nearly as much as they want to or as much as they have in the past two seasons. Through four games in 2011 and 2012, Houston had 137 rushes and 148 rushes, ranking first in the NFL through four weeks in both years. They finished 2011 ranked first in rushing attempts and fourth in 2012.

Right now, Houston ranks 11th in the NFL with only 118 rushing attempts.

"We’ve been in games that have brought about us throwing the ball too much," Kubiak said. "Don’t want to play that way. We were very balanced the other day and consistent in what we were doing. Threw it a lot in the overtime period and right before, threw it in the two-minute period right before the game ended. I liked to play much like we did the other day for three-and-a-half quarters."

There is plenty of logic in that thinking. The Texans have not had a losing record since the end of the 2010 season. That year they ranked 19th in the league in rushing attempts.

Foster has said he is ready for the workload to increase. He and Tate would both benefit from more carries to help each develop a rhythm. And Tate, for the most part, is certainly making a case for himself.