While the Houston Texans have continued to lose their way into position to have the first-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, they have had to weather the rest of this season without their star running back, Arian Foster, who underwent back surgery in November and, more than likely, won’t return this season.
In Foster’s absence, though, most people didn’t expect the Texans’ running game to falter that much. In fact, there were a lot of people who speculated that backup Ben Tate could not only be as effective as Foster as the Texans’ primary back, but could have even more success in an increased role.
In his first five games of taking the bulk of the carries for Houston, though, Tate wasn’t outstanding. He was by no means bad, but he averaged better than four yards per carry in only one game and failed to find the end-zone in any of those games. In week 13 against the New England Patriots, though, Tate really got things going.
Carrying the ball 22 times this past week, Tate finished the game with 102 yards and three scores against the Pats, looking more like the runner that many people expected him to. Given previous expectations and that big game, though, there are immediate questions about how he’ll perform in week 14.
Luckily for Tate and the Texans, he should have the opportunity to put together a nice game come Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though the Jags have been a bit hot as of late and held Tate to just one yard on seven carries in week 12, Jacksonville still has just the 29th ranked rushing defense in the league this season and Tate seems to be getting more focus and work in Houston’s offense. Just looking at the matchup, I certainly don’t think it’s crazy to think that Tate could be due for his second big game in a row this week.