TORONTO - The Houston Texans should finally look like themselves again this weekend.
Arian Foster, the man who won the rushing title a year ago in the NFL, is finally back to full strength, having hopefully put his hamstring problems behind him. His return couldn’t come at a better time.
The Texans host the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend and come into that game panicking over their lack of success in the red zone. In 16 trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard line, the Texans have come away with TDs just five times.
Head coach Gary Kubiak spent the better part of his week conveying those numbers to his team in various ways and insisting they change.
Enter Foster who had 13 of his 16 touchdowns a year ago scored from within that red zone. It might be a little much to expect him to pick up right where he left off last season, but Kubiak is sounding like he’ll give him that opportunity this weekend.
“We’re going to put him back to work full-time and see how he holds up,” Kubiak told the media on Friday.
Assuming the hamstring is indeed healed, look for Foster to see the ball a lot in the shadows of the Steelers goalposts ... again assuming the Texans get there.
Reggie Wayne will finally get his way.
The Indianapolis Colts’ marquee receiver and favourite target of Peyton Manning knew better than most how tough it was going to be for anyone stepping into Manning’s shoes, but no one wanted to listen to him ... until now.
Wayne’s first choice since the first word of an extended absence for Manning, was to let backup Curtis Painter have a shot at it.
Instead, the team went out and overpaid Kerry Collins to come in.
Now that Collins has a concussion — although the team isn’t calling it that — Painter will get his shot Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The veteran Wayne, however, was not ready to let it go just quite yet.
“It took me two years to learn this offence,” Wayne said on a Miami radio show Friday. “Now, you mean to tell me you’re gonna bring in somebody (Collins) and he’s gonna learn it in 18 days? That just didn’t sit right. That just didn’t sit right with me.
“And I know we had Curtis Painter, who’d been here for three years. You just gotta give him a shot.”
Painter didn’t look great in relief of the concussed Collins a week ago, but he appears to be an improvement over the man he eventually wound up replacing.
ANOTHER BLOWN TIRE
Just when it looked like Tony Sparano had at least one element of his bumbling football team figured out, he has to go back to square one.
Rookie Daniel Thomas, with two fine performances under his belt, had the Dolphins running game operating at full capacity. Then, late Thursday in practice, his weakened hamstring, which held him out of the season opener, flared up again.
And when the Dolphins team plane left for San Diego on Friday, Thomas wasn’t on it.
This could turn out to be yet another opportunity for Reggie Bush who showed the Fish very little when they tried to hand him the starting job.
Steve Slaton, recently picked up off the waiver wire has been with the team since Wednesday and is still in football shape, so the carries could go to him as well assuming he is sufficiently up to speed with the offence.
This is bad news for Sparano, who is barely hanging onto his job as it is.
LOGIC LOST ON CHIEFS STAR
When a team is struggling the way the Kansas Chiefs are struggling these days, excuses are rarely, if ever, satisfactory. It’s worse when the excuses are, well, downright idiotic.
Receiver Dwayne Bowe was attempting to explain away the Chiefs’ lack of offence so far this season by suggesting things weren’t quite clicking because the team missed out on OTA’s and some off-season work.
“Without having (off-season practices), we’ve got to somewhat expect a slow start,” Bowe told the Kansas City Star on Thursday. “I’m not saying it’s a big factor, but timing is key. Not having that, you can kind of expect a slow start.”
Perhaps Bowe doesn’t realize this, but the rest of the NFL also missed out on off-season practices because of the lockout and, last time we looked, few were struggling as badly as the Chiefs.