Coming off a 351-carry season, Arian Foster is used to getting the ball a lot. He carried the ball 18 times in the season opener, but said afterward he was frustrated with a lack of playing time in the fourth quarter.
"Coach makes the final ruling," Foster said via ESPN. "But as a competitor, I've been in this league, I felt that I've played well throughout my tenure here. You want to be out there. You feel like you've earned that right to be out there. That's just where the frustration comes from."
Instead of Foster, Ben Tate was on the field late in the game and it doesn't sound like he will welcome taking a backseat to Foster anytime soon.
"I'm always trying to be the best player that I can be," Tate told Fox Sports. "But I would be lying to you if I told you that I embraced the complement role to someone else. That's not why I wanted to be in the NFL. That's not my dream to complement someone else. That's not what my attitude or why I work out is to complement someone else."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said he expects Foster to take over the lead role as the season goes along, but for now the Texans will use Foster and Tate in a rotation with the two getting close to the same number of carries. The running-back-by-committee approach could continue if Tate continues to outperform Foster. Tate gained 55 yards on nine carries against San Diego, good for 6.1 yards per carry. Foster gained two more yards than Tate, but needed 18 carries and averaged 3.2 yards per carry.
Foster is working his way back from the calf injury that limited him during training camp, but Tate looked like the better player in Week 1. While competing for playing time could lead to some tension, Tate said the two have a good relationship and hang out off the field.
"I'm competitive and we compete in everything we do," Tate said. "That's just the way it is. But at the end of the day I feel that we are both mature about the situation."
Even if they continue to split carries through this season, the competition isn't likely to continue beyond 2013. Tate is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent following this season and at 25 years old, he's likely to command significant interest on the open market. The Texans are already working with limited salary cap flexibility and have a few other key players set to hit the market.