Arian Foster scares me. And I don't mean in a Halloween kind of way.
As recently as a week ago, drafting Foster with a Top 6 pick was a good idea. At least it was to me. New Texans head coach Bill O'Brien regularly referred to Foster as his bell cow back, and the coach has a long-standing track record of leaning on the ground game. You can see it back in his days at Penn State, with the Patriots and even as far back as with Georgia Tech. Foster might have disappointed Fantasy owners last season when a back injury totaled his campaign but before the injury he ran just as well as he did in previous seasons, minus the touchdowns.
Two things have happened to change my mind: Foster's lack of practicing at training camp and Foster suggesting in an ESPN interview that he thought about retiring during the offseason.
Obviously, not practicing is a bad thing. It's about as bad as holding out because your body's not getting used to the rigors of football. Your mind might be all right since you're attending meetings, but if your body's not ready to play then you're toast. Foster has practiced once in the last 11 days, sitting out because of what is believed to be a hamstring injury (the Texans won't say). The longer he's out, the more likely he won't be thrust into a situation where he'll get the ball 20 times per game. And if he's out with a hamstring injury then there's no reason to believe he won't cramp it up again at some point during the season.
But the announcement that he though about quitting football is just as troubling to me. Ever have a co-worker who knew he was leaving his job but was still working it anyway? How hard did that guy work? Did he give his all or did he suddenly "mail it in?" Foster specifically recalled meeting Earl Campbell, who is confined to a wheel chair and is in not-so-good shape for a 59-year-old guy, and realizing that he could have some physical trouble when he gets older if he continues to play football.
"Looking at him in a wheelchair and seeing how some of the affects from football are affecting him today and you're just looking at what really matters here. I'm going to walk away when I want to," Foster said.
The fact that he's speaking out on it now scares me. It doesn't happen very much, but how often does a player think about retirement, speak on it, and then play at a high level? How might you expect them to play?
This isn't saying Foster intends to retire after the season or anything close to that. We just don't know. Maybe Foster doesn't even know. Or maybe he does. Point is, he's made millions playing football (he landed over $20 million guaranteed in his 2012 extension) and even though he's got two years left on his deal, he could just as easily walk away so as to avoid permanent damage to his body.
So for now, Foster's out of my Top 12 running backs. Maybe I'll change my mind once I see him play some preseason snaps and make some practice on a regular basis. But I'm not sure Foster could say or do anything to make me forget about his retirement thoughts.