Arian Foster has always marched to the beat of his own drum. He’s lived an ambitious life off the football field, pursuing creative interests like acting and poetry. A Sporting News profile from 2011 referred to Foster as “The Most Interesting Man in the NFL.”
Foster is clearly of the mindset that there’s more to life than just football. Perhaps that’s why he ended his career so abruptly. The 30-year-old announced his retirement on Monday, calling it quits on a career that spanned eight NFL seasons. Foster released a statement explaining his decision. “My father always said, ‘You’ll know when it’s time to walk away.’ It has never been more clear than right now,” said Foster. “I know it’s not commonplace to do it midseason, but my body just can’t take the punishment this game asks for anymore.”
Foster’s retirement shines a light on a growing trend across football. Players seem to be retiring at an earlier age with Marshawn Lynch and Calvin Johnson among the recent examples. Both of those players had more left in the tank than Foster, who was lucky to squeeze out four games this year after suffering a devastating Achilles tear in 2015. Foster enjoyed a productive 2014 campaign but spent his last two years playing on borrowed time. In that span, he averaged an embarrassing 2.56 yards per carry over eight contests. Already with more money than he could ever spend (Foster inked a five-year, $43.5 million deal in 2012), it seems like Foster made the right call to throw in the towel.
Foster certainly wasn’t needed in Miami anymore. Jay Ajayi has cemented his role as the Dolphins’ lead back by rushing for over 200 yards in each of his last two games. Still hobbled by a hamstring injury, Foster worked as Miami’s third-string back in Sunday’s win over Buffalo.
Foster’s finale was anticlimactic but so are most endings. His career accolades include four Pro Bowl appearances, two All-Pro nods, a rushing title in 2010, two trips to the postseason and 68 career touchdowns. Foster was an all-purpose back, posing a threat to opposing defenses both as a runner and a receiver. He led all running backs in receiving yards in 2010 and finished third a year later while leading the Texans to their first playoff appearance. While Foster probably didn’t do enough in his career to earn a bust in Canton, his importance to the Texans’ cannot be overstated. Along with J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson, Foster made the Texans relevant after many years of obscurity.
Foster has been a household name for a long time, but that wasn’t always the case. He was only a so-so college player at Tennessee and wasn’t drafted in 2009. The Texans cut him after his first training camp but Foster latched onto the practice squad and worked his way up to the active roster by midseason. A year later he was the league’s leading rusher and a first-team All-Pro. Foster now owns virtually every rushing record in team history including career rushing yards (6,472), rushing attempts (1,474), rushing touchdowns (54) and yes, even fumbles (17).
Foster has been universally praised and celebrated since his retirement announcement, but I think our own Evan Silva offered the most fitting tribute of all: “Many backs have been compared to him along the way but he has yet to be duplicated.” Well said, Evan.
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Osweiler Tanks in Return to Denver
Brock Osweiler’s return to the Mile High City, scheduled in primetime for our viewing pleasure, was always an overrated storyline. The truth is, Osweiler barely played in Denver. Over four seasons, Osweiler attempted a grand total of 305 passes with 275 coming last year while Peyton Manning was sidelined by plantar fasciitis. After being a bystander for the Broncos’ playoff run, Osweiler jumped ship on the first day of free agency by signing a four-year, $72 million deal to become the Texans’ franchise quarterback.
Many Broncos including Aqib Talib and Brandon Marshall tried to portray Osweiler’s exodus as some sort of grand betrayal but the words mostly rang hollow. After all, Osweiler did the Broncos a favor by leaving. He showed why by delivering one of the most disastrous quarterback performances in recent memory. Osweiler was monumentally inept on Monday night, completing just 22-of-41 passes for 131 yards with no touchdowns.
Osweiler was fortunate to escape without throwing an interception, though he did commit a turnover on a pathetic fourth-quarter fumble. The miscue was so astounding that cornerback Chris Harris Jr. failed to advance the fumble because he assumed it was an incomplete pass. Had he kept running, Harris would have had an easy touchdown.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Osweiler was 0-for-7 on passes longer than 15 yards and just 5-for-16 for 21 yards when facing the blitz. His longest completion of the night went for just 13 yards. Brock has been exposed before (think back to the Patriots’ game in Week 3), but never this thoroughly. Most quarterbacks would be benched after an outing like this, but that’s unlikely given the amount of money Houston sank into Osweiler this offseason.
Denver didn’t need much offense on Monday, but they got some anyway. C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker led the charge, fueling the Broncos with 190 yards and two touchdowns on a combined 33 carries. Monday marked an important turning point in Denver’s running game. Booker had been gaining ground on Anderson in recent weeks but for the first time, he actually out-touched him in Week 7 (17-16). That’s enough to make Anderson owners rip out their hair, though C.J. was actually more effective than his backfield counterpart on Monday night. He outgained Booker en route to a season-high 107 rushing yards. It’s reasonable to expect the Broncos to continue leaning on their ground game, especially with game-manager Trevor Siemian under center. But only time will tell if Anderson and Booker can have a peaceful coexistence. Regardless, Booker is a must-add in all fantasy leagues.
Denver’s 27-9 victory was marred by a horrific injury. Texans right tackle Derek Newton fell to the turf in the first quarter while attempting to block Von Miller. He was carted off and later diagnosed with two torn patellar tendons. Victor Cruz and Jimmy Graham have endured similar injuries, but not to both knees like Newton. Obviously Newton has a long road to recovery. Hopefully the injuries aren’t career-threatening.
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Quick Hits: Jay Cutler is set to return this week after missing the previous five games with a thumb injury. He’s replacing Brian Hoyer, who was just placed on injured reserve with a broken left forearm. Hoyer underwent surgery on Sunday … Tevin Coleman is expected to sit out Sunday’s game against the Packers after injuring his hamstring in Week 7. Coleman leads all NFL running backs with 330 receiving yards … Hunter Henry has entered the league’s concussion protocol. The Chargers tight end is fourth in receiving yards among rookies behind Michael Thomas, Sterling Shepard and Will Fuller … Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he’s sticking with Blake Bortles at quarterback. The third-year signal-caller owns the league’s second-lowest passer rating out of 32 qualifiers … Geno Smith is believed to have suffered a torn right ACL, which would sideline him for the rest of 2016. With Smith headed for free agency, Sunday’s game against Baltimore may have been his final appearance in a Jets uniform. Ryan Fitzpatrick will take over as the starter one week after being benched for Smith … The Eagles have had trade discussions with the 49ers regarding wide receiver Torrey Smith. Philadelphia has put out one of the worst receiving groups in the league this season with Jordan Matthews starting in base sets opposite Nelson Agholor. Josh Huff and Dorial Green-Beckham, who was acquired from the Titans in a trade this past summer, have also seen significant snaps … 49ers coach Chip Kelly expects Colin Kaepernick to retain the team’s starting quarterback job after the upcoming bye week. Kaepernick has fared poorly in his two starts this year, completing just 46 percent of his passes for 330 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and three fumbles … Seahawks coach Pete Carroll expects Thomas Rawls to return in the next two weeks. Rawls has sat out the last four games with a fractured fibula … Ty Montgomery is now eligible at running back in ESPN fantasy leagues. Montgomery led the Packers with 60 rushing yards against the Bears in Week 7 and will continue to play a prominent role in the running game with Eddie Lacy (ankle) and James Starks (knee surgery) both sidelined … Browns coach Hue Jackson admitted he isn’t sure if Corey Coleman will resume practicing this week. The rookie wide receiver has missed the Browns’ last five games with a broken hand … Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported Sunday that the Browns would be willing to trade LT Joe Thomas for a second-round pick. Hue Jackson has since refuted that report, stating simply, “We. Are. Not. Going. To. Trade. Joe. Thomas.” The 31-year-old has been to the Pro Bowl every year since being drafted in 2007 … John Brown is expected to return this week after missing Sunday’s game with a leg injury stemming from a sickle-cell condition. The Cardinals could sure use Brown with Jaron Brown (ACL) out for the season and Michael Floyd slowed by a hamstring injury … The Cardinals have begun extension talks with Chandler Jones. The former Patriot holds PFF’s second-highest 3-4 outside linebacker grade out of 55 qualifiers … Jordan Reed is expected to resume practicing on Wednesday. He’s been sidelined with a concussion the past two weeks. Vernon Davis has been starting in Reed’s absence … As you’re probably well aware, Chandler Catanzaro and Steven Hauschka both missed potential game-winning field goals in Sunday night’s tie. One wonders what the outcome would have been had Randy Moss lined up for the game-winner.