Houston- The Houston Texans continue to get healthy at the right time of the season but there are still questions surrounding running back D’Onta Foreman. As we know, Foreman was injured last season on a touchdown run against the Arizona Cardinals tearing his achilles on his left leg. Fast forward to this season, Foreman stayed on the Reserve/PUP list rehabbing and working to get back into shape to possible help the team in 2018.
The Texans activated the 21-day window on Foreman to practice on the football field with his teammates after the bye week. Now, the Texans and Foreman are two weeks into the window and a decision is coming for the organization to make a sound decision on their young running back.
When asked about Foreman at the beginning of the week, head coach Bill O’Brien made it clear he didn’t think Foreman was all the way back.
“Foreman’s doing better,” O’Brien explained. “I don’t think he’s all the way back, though. I really don’t. I think we’ve got to do a good job with him. He does a good job communicating with me on where’s he’s at. I think he feels better, I think he feels good. We’ve got a little bit more time on that decision relative to that window, so we’ll see how it looks this week again. We’ll make a good decision No. 1, based on him – the player and where he’s at – then secondly, based on the team.”
A couple days later, Foreman caught up with Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle and mentioned he was ready to go and waiting for the word on the next step.
“I feel good, I feel great,” Foreman said to the Houston Chronicle. “I’m ready to go. I’ve been practicing. I feel very explosive. I’m cutting really good. I feel ready to go.”
It is clear that Foreman is making it known that he wants to play this season but the Texans are taking their time to make a clear decision that is in the best interest of Foreman. There are plenty of people watching the situation and have the rookie version of Foreman in their head and expecting a similar situation in 2018.
There are a couple of decisions regarding Foreman that the Texans have to weigh for the remainder of the season. Past running backs like Arian Foster, Vick Ballard, Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams were all slowed due to their achilles ruptures ending their careers.
A study in March of 2018 by Joshua D. Harris, MD that specializes in Orthopedic Sports Medicine at Houston Methodist released a study regarding achilles injuries for NFL players. Harris told Healio.com/Othriopdics the following. (Read More Here)
“Achilles tendon injuries in the NFL are common season-ending injuries that require a surgical repair. Our study of 95 NFL players showed that it was also a career-ending injury in nearly 28% of those analyzed. Although postoperative performance was worse in running backs and linebackers (vs. pre-injury), there was no difference in postoperative performance or number of games played for any position (with the exception of linebackers) compared to rigorously matched control players in the league.”
Harris also concluded of the 95 players he analyzed, 71 were able to return to the NFL game but there was significantly worst postoperative performance scores compare with preoperative scores especially in running backs and linebacker.
Not only is there medical backing on the severity of Foreman’s injury but the bigger issue is if and where Foreman would fit on the 53-man roster.
Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue both have been taking the snaps at running back for the Texans this season, Miller has 157 carries while Blue has 115 with both of the back being instrumental in the current win streak. and they also have third-string running back Buddy Howell on the roster and Howell has been one of the top special teams players and is currently tied for the team lead in 6 special teams tackles.
The Texans have a vision when Foreman returns to have a three-headed attack from the backfield along side Miller and Blue but there is a roster issue with the potential of Foreman returning.
Foreman is not a special teams player and nor should he be especially on how talented he is as a running back. With that said, it is hard to see Foreman coming in an taking over the carries Miller and Blue are currently getting in the offense. The big question is where Foreman is conditioning, mainly because he is far behind due to him rehabbing his injury. How does he take a hit, what he looks like in pads or anything else needed that back has to do in an offense. The big issue is the Texans might never get an accurate look at Foreman in these situations this late in the season due to limited padded practices and the team has been playing for 11 games and health is paramount. O’Brien is not going to haul off and have full contact practices that put players at risk of being hurt especially this late in the season.
The Texans will have to take an educated guess on if Foreman could help but it is hard to see him coming in and taking carries from Miller or Blue much less taking special teams snaps from Blue or Howell. There would have to be a player moved out from the 53-man roster to make room for Foreman which would lead to another tough decision for the Texans.
Foreman could be activated and stashed on the 53-man roster until needed, especially if the Texans get into the post-season. If anything happens to Lamar Miller or Alfred Blue, the Texans better have a back up plan and it might be Foreman.
The thought of Foreman returning could be a big boost for an offense that could use more skill players but there are plenty of questions surrounding a young running back coming off a serious injury that does not favor a player in his position.
In a perfect world, Foreman returns and all is well but it is not. The Texans have to think about their current makeup of their roster and how they head to game days. Expect the Texans to take the decision on Foreman to the wire on whether or not to activate him to the 53-man roster. There are plenty of options for the Texans to weigh and but the reality is that expectations should be tempered on the Foreman situation.
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