Running Back (Five)
The roles for the No. 1 and No. 2 running backs are pretty much set in stone. Arian Foster, the winner of the NFL rushing title in 2010, is believed to be one of the best running backs in the NFL, and the starting job is clearly his. Ben Tate almost rushed for 1,000 yards last season as the backup to Foster, and he definitely has the talent to be a starting running back in the NFL.
Last season, Derrick Ward was a consistent and reliable third-string running back for the Texans, but he is now an unrestricted free agent with no telling what team he will sign with.
If Ward does not re-sign, which he will not if cannot find a backup job elsewhere, then the slot for the third-string back is wide open. The competition will most likely be between Javarris Williams, Jonathan Grimes and Davin Meggett.
In this situation, I believe Grimes will be the favorite for the last roster spot for a halfback. He was a workhorse who could do it all in the NCAA. He finished his career as the all-time leading rusher in FCS history, and he is also extremely effective out of the backfield. He is a north-south runner who can easily provide relief for Foster and Tate in blowout games.
When the Texans open up Week 1 versus the Miami Dolphins, James Casey will be the starting fullback. Casey, however, will be needed to contribute as a tight end as well, due to the loss of Joel Dreessen in free agency. Furthermore, Casey is smaller and less strong than a prototypical NFL fullback, and he is not the best in power-running situations.
Therefore, the Texans need to utilize a backup fullback who can play consistently when Casey is lining up as a tight end, and also be a force in short-yardage situations.
Jason Ford is that guy.
He is big, strong and has the potential to be an excellent run-blocker in the NFL. He will likely be Casey's backup come Week 1.