The Houston Texans couldn’t have asked for a worse start to training camp. Their most important offensive weapon, Arian Foster, is going to be out at least the first half of the season with a severe groin injury that’s going to require surgery.
I didn’t think Houston would be in a hole like this so early in the season, but Foster was in line to fall off this season (which is why he was listed in my five biggest busts of 2015). The big question is where do the Texans go from here?
Their offense is built around running the ball, and signing Pierre Thomas likely isn’t the answer. Alfred Blue has shown some potential, but probably isn’t ready to take on a Foster type workload. The easy way out is to just sign a free agent, but every player on that list is there for a reason.
If Houston is serious about saving its season (and who knows how far its defense can take them), it should consider making a trade for one of these RBs:
Giovani Bernard — RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Gio is a really solid back that’s never been fully featured in an offense. He’s a dual threat out of the backfield, so he’s a much different runner than Foster, but that doesn’t mean Houston wouldn’t fit him. Playing behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis his rookie season, Bernard racked up 695 rushing yards, 514 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns. Those numbers earned him the starting role entering 2014, but an injury, and the emergence of Jeremy Hill, pushed Gio back into the change of pace role. A team would be smart to feature him in its offense.
Ryan Matthews — RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Matthews had his ups and downs in San Diego, but it’s clear that he has the skill set to be a featured back. The problem is his ability to stay healthy — not a very attractive quality when you’re looking for someone to replace your already injured starter. Matthews played in only six games last season, but ran for 1,255 yards in 16 games the prior season. Philly signed Matthews before it was able to add DeMarco Murray, who showed the ability to carry a team last season. I think the Eagles would be smart to keep both considering Murray and Matthews both are injury prone, but maybe Houston can talk Philly into parting with Matthews for the right price.
Tre Mason — RB, St. Louis Rams
The RB position was a revolving door for the Rams last season, but once Mason got the job, it looked like they’d found their guy. Then they went out and drafted Todd Gurley, who, at the price STL paid, is going to step right into the feature role. In 12 games last season, Mason accumulated 913 total yards and five touchdowns. In Week 13 he showed that he has the ability to be a top option when he ran for 117 yards on just 14 carries and found himself in the end zone three times (one on the receiving end). Like Bernard, Mason is young and brings fresh legs.
Andre Williams — RB, New York Giants
Williams was a Heisman Trophy candidate during his final year at Boston College, something not many backups can claim. He’s a power runner and would fit right in to Houston’s game plan. Rashad Jennings was only able to give the Giants 11 games in his first season as their starter, so they may not want to part with Williams who filled in nicely — 721 rushing yards and seven scores while playing in all 16 games. Williams also ran for 110+ yards twice over the final four games of the season, so he’s shown improvement. Maybe with the addition of Shane Vreen, NYG would be willing to part with one of the trio, though.
Knile Davis — RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Davis is one of the most valuable handcuffs in the NFL, playing behind Jamaal Charles. When Charles plays, Davis does nothing more than take some scattered carries. He’s great protection if Jamaal gets hurt, though. Charles played in 15 games last season, but during a three game stretch when he was banged up/not playing, Davis ran for 318 yards and three touchdowns. That’s extremely valuable. If KC feels they have another capable backup, Houston would be very fortunate to land him.
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