It's not often teams have the luxury of digging into their roster and having players that could help them be even better than they were when the season started. Look no further than the backup running back in Ben Tate who has missed 5 of the 13 games this season for the Texans. Hampered by a foot and hamstring issue, Tate has been limited to only 54 carries in 2012. This is a concern especially when it comes to Arian Foster's workload on the field.
Tate has shown he can carry the running game and in 2011 when Foster was out with a hamstring issue Tate had 66 carries for 301 yards (1st three weeks) and averaged 4.6 yards a carry. Fast forward to this season, Tate has been a non factor and at times feels like he is in Gary Kubiak's doghouse for some reason. Some think it might be Tate's injuries that are frustrating Kubiak, but it is visible that something may not be right at Reliant with the use of Tate.
Kubiak has mentioned that Justin Forsett has played well enough to warrant the backup carries to Foster, while Tate would have to work to get back into the offense. The idea was even thrown around that Tate could even end up on special teams to get back on the field, but that has not happened yet. Looking at the direction the Texans are headed, the running game has become one of the bigger question marks of the offense, and the offensive philosophy is built around running the football.
Foster looks tired and at times looks like he does not have the same burst we have seen in previous seasons, but over 332 touches can do that to any football player (298 rushes, 34 receptions). Add in Forsett who has been a nice surprise this season, the ground game has had flashes of looking good. Tate has been back for two games and has carried the ball 11 times and averaged 5.8 yards a carry, but the lack of using him is a question burning in fans' minds.
It is time to unleash Tate and get him the carries he needs to put life back into the offense and take pressure off of Matt Schaub throwing the ball more than usual. Adding Tate will also help Foster be more of a complete back and let him get back the freshness he needs for the playoffs. Tate showed against the New England Patriots on Monday night that there are creases in the defense, and he hit them at another speed. His ability to hit the holes with speed makes the offense look faster and it adds that extra dimension that has been missing.
Whatever the issue is with Tate and his coaching staff needs to be put to rest because Ben Tate will be a key piece for the Texans the last three games and the playoff run. Tate can bring his hard nosed, one cut running style to the table that compliments Foster's finesse running style. Tate will put his nose into defenders for the extra yard and now it is time to dust off Tate and get him his carries.