You can make a case for being both optimistic and pessimistic about just about every team in the NFL right now. That's the beauty of early July.
On Monday we made a case for being optimistic about the Texans. Today we'll examine the opposite.
Reason for pessimism
It's unclear how long Arian Foster will stay healthy.
An under-analyzed aspect of the Texans' offense last season was what happened to their running game. The problems began early with starter Foster's calf and back injuries during organized team activities and training camp. Foster seemed to improve through training camp and early in the season. He was active for seven games, scoring one rushing touchdown and managing two 100-yard games. Among those was the Oct. 13 game against the St. Louis Rams in which Foster rushed for 141 yards.
When Foster was unable to continue because of a back issue that required surgery, the Texans found themselves in a bind. Backup Ben Tate suffered broken ribs and played through them as long as it "made sense." Third-stringer Cierre Wood was unceremoniously dumped before the Texans played Kansas City in October.
And the Texans offense as a whole struggled. By that point quarterback Matt Schaub had already been usurped, but it didn't help new starter Case Keenum's audition to have such uncertainty with his backs.
But enough about the past. Foster now is apparently feeling great. His media boycott has lasted throughout organized team activities and both of the Texans' minicamps, so we haven't heard directly from him, but his teammates say that's what he's saying. Texans coach Bill O'Brien plans to use him in diverse ways, and during a (likely paid) appearance at a bowling alley, Foster told reporters he was excited about that.
You have to wonder, though, is this going to last?
Foster is 27 years old. This analysis by Pro Football Reference found that running backs tend to begin declining after they turn 27. Foster turns 28 in August. This decline can manifest itself in a lot of ways. Sometimes it's pure wear and tear. Sometimes it's the result of the body's declining ability to recover from injuries.
The Texans should be in better shape this season with their backups than they were last season. But this offense will need Foster. Will they have him all season?