Arian Foster won the Texans' starting RB job with an improved approach to his job, and the work paid off handsomely in the first month of the season. Through three games, no back accumulated more rushing yards than Foster, who earned AFC Offensive Player of the Month honors in September.
Now, Texans RB coach Chick Harris wants him to sustain that progress.
"This is the thing: A lot of people can say, well, it's been a great first month, but there's a lot of football to be played," Harris told PFW this week. "I like to say that at the end of the season, let's see what we have. Anybody can start and have a pretty decent beginning, but let's see what we can do in the second and third month."
When asked if that was his message to Foster, Harris replied: "That's the message. That's when you determine if you're legit or not. You've got to go out there, week in and week out, against different opponents every week and line up and get it done and also prove to your teammates that you're ready to get it done."
Foster, an undrafted free agent, emerged late last season, rushing for a combined 216 yards in wins at Miami and vs. New England to finish the year. He entered the spring as the Texans' No. 1 back and has kept the job. Harris chalked up his progress to improved work habits and "buying into our system," among other factors. Harris, who has coached the Texans' running backs since Houston began NFL play in 2002, described Foster's improvement as an exercise in collective confidence-building — as his confidence grew, so did that of the coaches, and so did that of the offensive line.
The end result has helped give Houston one of the NFL's more productive running games. And Foster has shown a willingness to work on other aspects of the job, too. At 227 pounds and with a good understanding of the Texans' scheme, he's solid in pass protection, Harris said.
As a pass catcher, Foster has upside, Harris said. He had a 50-yard reception on a screen pass in Week Two at Washington.
It was while talking about that aspect of Foster's game that Harris said, with diligence, the promising and productive back we see today can become even better.
"I think he could be complete if he works at it," Harris said. "He has to continue to work at it. He has to be consistent. And consistency goes along with practice."