NFL.com asked Texans coach Bill O'Brien this week if Arian Foster, who will turn 29 in August, has reached the age where the Texans need to re-think how they use him.
"I think any time a player reaches that age of 30 or close to that age of 30, and you know that the guy can still play, you know that he is a very talented player," O'Brien said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Arian is a very talented guy in a lot of phases. He can run the ball, he can catch the ball, he's a good pass protector, he's a smart football player, but you've got to manage him. How do you manage that? You manage him in practice. You manage him in the games.
"That's something we'll always take into account. We communicate with the player. We communicate with Arian. How are you feeling this week? What's ailing you? Things like that. You take a lot of hits at running back in this league. I think we just continue to communicate with Arian and manage it. He's got a lot of good football yet."
O'Brien went on to say he's high on both Alfred Blue and third-down back Jonathan Grimes, though he didn't rule out adding a new face.
Foster averaged 22.9 touches per game (the 4th-highest workload in the league) and scored 0.79 fantasy points per touch (13th among the top 60 running backs). From a fantasy points per game standpoint, he was #2 in standard formats and #4 in PPR, so he's still playing at a very high level when healthy. However, he missed three games in 2014 and eight more in 2013, and has only played 14 or more games once in his last four seasons. Alfred Blue averaged 23.0 touches for 103 total yards in the three games that Foster missed, so unless the Texans go another direction at the position, Blue is a must-handcuff for Foster owners. It sounds as if the team will try to limit Foster’s workload as he enters his age 29 season, but he should easily average 18-20 touches when healthy.