Things could not get any worse for the 2-5 Houston Texans, whose star running back and offensive focal point, Arian Foster, has been ruled out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Monday that Foster will miss the rest of 2015. La Canfora also stated the typical timeline for recovery from such an injury is six to nine months.
Foster, 29, has been one of the lone bright spots for Houston this season, rushing for 163 yards and a touchdown and catching 22 passes for another 227 yards and two scores. Outside of burgeoning star wideout DeAndre Hopkins, Foster is the team's most dynamic offensive weapon.
His injury woes, however, are nothing new. Foster has played a full season just twice in his career and has missed 14 games in the past two-plus seasons. But he rushed for over 1,000 yards in four of the five seasons prior to this one.
"I think he's done a lot in the two years I've been here," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said, per Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com. "He's done a lot for us, and I feel bad for him. That's all I can tell you. I hate that part of the game. There's nothing you can do about it, but I feel bad for the guy."
In the short term, Alfred Blue and Chris Polk will spell Foster. Neither offers the vision, fluidity, versatility or game-breaking ability of Foster, though they should be adequate, if unspectacular, replacements for the duration of the season.
The Texans reportedly believe so as well, as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Tuesday that the team has no plans to pick up a running back through free agency.
In the long term, however, the Texans need to decide if they want to continue their large financial commitment to the injury-prone running back. Foster's cap hit for next season is $9.3 million, per Ganguli, and the team would save $7 million by releasing him. If he isn't willing to restructure his deal, the organization may decide it's time to cut ties with the veteran and look for a cheaper option through the draft.