Houston running back Arian Foster was removed from the physically unable to perform list Wednesday and practiced with the Texans for the first time since May.
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Foster strained his right calf in an offseason practice in late May and struggled with a sore back after recovering from that injury.
”It’s really important,” coach Gary Kubiak said. ”He’s been working, it’s not like he’s been standing around. He’s been trying to get all that soreness out and he felt really good the last two days. I think we took a big step forward.”
Kubiak thought that Foster would have returned to practice sooner than he did, but he understood why he was out as long as he was.
”I was watching him work and watching what he was going though so I felt confident that we were close and ready to go,” Kubiak said. ”I also understand how important it was that they did it at the right time. The key is Arian felt good about it today and that’s the most important thing.”
Foster rushed for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns last year for his third straight 1,200-yard season.
Kubiak doesn’t expect Foster to play Sunday against the Saints and he likely won’t play in Houston’s final preseason game on Aug. 29 at Dallas. But that won’t keep him from being ready for Houston’s opener at San Diego on Sept. 9.
”I don’t think it’s a must that he carry the ball in preseason to be ready for San Diego,” Kubiak said.
Foster wasn’t sure if he’d see preseason action, but didn’t sound like he was angling to play before the opener.
”I’m not a huge fan of preseason,” he said. ”I feel like I’ll be ready for Sept. 9 without (it). I’ve just got to get myself acclimated.”
He said it was a bit frustrating to deal with his back situation after recovering from the calf injury, but he was never concerned that the problems would bleed into the regular season.
”I know my body and I knew it wasn’t a huge issue,” he said. ”I had to give it time.”
The Texans have relied on Ben Tate and a group of mostly rookie running backs while Foster was injured. Quarterback Matt Schaub said it was a boost to see Foster on the field on Wednesday.
”It was great to see him back out there and see his explosiveness,” Schaub said. ”After all his rehab he looked pretty fresh. It was great to have him back in the huddle and get another piece of the puzzle back.”
Foster is excited about the possibilities for the offense with the new pieces they added in the offseason led by receiver DeAndre Hopkins, chosen in the first-round of this year’s draft.
”We’ve got all the potential in the world, we’ve just got to go execute,” Foster said. ”Obviously we have a bunch of talent here and it’s always fun to watch.”
Foster went through some changes in his life during the offseason, with he and his wife welcoming their first son. He said he mostly just sleeps and eats now, but he can’t wait for him to get old enough to run around and play.
But he’s hoping that his boy doesn’t follow in his footsteps in a few years, saying an emphatic ”no” when asked about the possibility of him playing football one day.
”If he wants to it’s cool,” Foster said. ”I love the game and everything but this hurts. It’s a lot of work. Let daddy put in the work so you can go study art or something.”