After both players left practice early on Thursday, Gary Kubiak predictably said he thought both players would be fine and should be ready to go Sunday (without seeing any MRI results, or getting any feedback from trainers after examination – typical coach speak).
Friday the news came down that Arian Foster did, in fact, have an MRI due to the pain in his knee which Foster himself later clarified to be the “knee area.” Okay, the knee area.
Needless to say, both Foster and Brooks Reed missed practice Friday, and have now been listed by Kubiak as the dreaded “game-time decision.” I don’t have the numbers to back this up, but it’s my recollection that during the Kubiak era, I would say roughly 80% of starters who are game-time decisions on Friday do not end up playing on Sunday.
I’m certainly not going to freak out about Reed or Foster, but it’s definitely worth having some concern over. In the case of either player, if Kubiak works them out Sunday before the game and they look fine, they should play. If Kubiak notices even the slightest issue at all, they should not. I’m sure nearly 100% of Texans fans think the team’s chances of winning don’t take a significant hit against Miami if Foster is replaced by Ben Tate, and Reed by rookie Whitney Mercilus.
I’d venture a guess that even prior to Foster’s “knee area” issues, Ben Tate was going to see a pretty decent workload. One of my “working theories” based on what I saw in the preseason (why the hell have I not done an entry on those!?!?) is that Tate is no longer going to be a backup as much as he and Foster will be 1A and 1B. Last year he was much closer to backup than he was a guy who “split carries” with Foster. This year I think you’ll see a fair uptick in his workload. There won’t be a true split, but I expect you will see Tate in the game on more consecutive plays than in the past.
As far as Reed, I’m very excited about what he can accomplish in year two, but I’d be just as excited (against an inferior team like Miami) to see what Whitney Mercilus can do against some first-teamers in a game that counts. Kubiak seemed a little more concerned about Reed than Foster, but reality is that when you miss practice on Friday before a Sunday game – it may not be a MAJOR ISSUE OH MY GOD!!! – but it is certainly significant.