Arian Foster's frustration was visible after being told to stay off the field during a drive in the fourth quarter Monday, and Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak understands completely why his star running back would feel slighted.
He also believes fewer carries for Foster at this point may be in the team's best interests.
After surviving plenty of drama in its season-opening victory, Houston on Sunday hosts a Tennessee Titans team looking to prove last week's surprisingly solid defensive effort was no fluke.
The Texans fought back from a 21-point second-half deficit to tie San Diego at 28 in the fourth quarter, getting help from both Foster and backup Ben Tate in the running game.
Foster, though, appeared to be waved back off the field at one point by Tate, who elected to stay in. Foster, who ran 18 times for 57 yards compared to 55 on nine rushes for Tate, didn't seem to appreciate the gesture.
"They both want to be on the field. I understand that. I think that's a good thing for the team," Kubiak said.
He plans to have Foster and Tate split carries until he feels Foster, who didn't take a single rep in the preseason, is ready for a larger workload.
"I want to keep it somewhat close right now and watch them working to what's going on," Kubiak said. "I think Arian's been a player who's at his best when he carries the ball 25 times, so we'll head back in that direction (eventually). I think if we're running the football well and we're in the type of football game that we want to be in, I think there's plenty of carries to go around."
The Texans ended up completing their comeback Monday, as Randy Bullock kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired for a 31-28 victory. Matt Schaub finished 34 of 45 for 346 yards and three touchdowns, two to tight end Owen Daniels.
Andre Johnson caught 12 passes for 146 yards.
"There's a lot of times people say, 'We'll get 'em next week.' Well that's not part of this team's make up," Kubiak said. "There's a belief there that regardless of what happens on any given Sunday, we can find a way to win a football game."
The Titans did just that last week despite spotting Pittsburgh a safety on the opening kickoff, winning 16-9 after holding the Steelers' offense to 195 total yards and keeping them scoreless until 1:23 remained.
Jurrell Casey and Zach Brown each had two sacks for Tennessee.
The Titans allowed a league-worst 29.4 points per game last season while ranking 27th by giving up 374.9 yards per game. They hadn't allowed a team to gain fewer total yards since holding Pittsburgh to 127 in a 19-11 loss Sept. 19, 2010.
"That's what we're going to try to do all season long and keep fighting and not let the past keep up with us and turn this thing around for ourselves,'' Casey said. "We got a little swagger to us."
Tennessee took a cautious approach offensively, rushing 42 times for 112 yards while Jake Locker completed 11 of his 20 attempts for 125 yards. Chris Johnson rushed for 70 yards on 25 carries, and backup Jackie Battle scored the team's lone touchdown.
Coach Mike Munchak, though, doesn't believe his offense is one-dimensional.
"Next week it may be having to pass 40 times rather than run it 40 times, so we feel we have the people to do it either way,'' Munchak said.
The Titans will be tested by a Houston defense that will return end Antonio Smith and hopes to have safety Ed Reed in the lineup.
Smith served a one-game suspension for ripping off the helmet of Miami's Richie Incognito in the preseason, while Reed is still recovering from offseason hip surgery.
Kubiak said it's a wait-and-see approach with Reed in practice this week.
"I think we're very close," Kubiak said. "Does he take more of a load than he did last week? We'll see, but I know we're very, very close. I think it's still a day-to-day thing right now."
Houston won both meetings last season, forcing nine turnovers while not committing any. Foster ran for 86 yards and a touchdown in a 38-14 win Sept. 30 before the Texans overcame 141 yards rushing from Johnson in a 24-10 victory Dec. 2.
Locker committed five turnovers in that loss.
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