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#pounditWednesday, January 20, 2021

Arian Foster Benched by Gary Kubiak for First Quarter in Coach’s Decision

Fantasy football owners and Texans fans were stunned by the news that running back Arian Foster was benched to start the game in Oakland. Foster, who won the AFC Offensive Player of the Month Award, had fantasy owners in panic as he started off the game on the bench for no apparent reason.

Houston decided to play Derrick Ward and Steve Slaton at running back and allowed both men to carry the ball their first four drives of the game. The first drive ended with a 33-yard touchdown by Ward. Their next drive led to a punt, the third drive resulted in a touchdown pass (set up by a nice 23-yard run from Slaton), and it wasn’t until Houston punted on their 4th drive that we finally saw Foster.

The NFL’s leading rusher had his first carry with six minutes left in the second quarter. Foster posted just 13 yards on three carries before halftime but came out with a vengeance in the second half. On the second play of the second half, Arian Foster busted through a hole for a 74-yard touchdown — his longest career run — to break a 14-14 tie. Foster split the load on the team’s next drive, but then he regained his role as the feature back after that.

Arian Foster finished with 131 on 16 carries and added 56 yards on three receptions (plus a receiving touchdown). His strong performance bailed out fantasy owners who were freaking after the unproductive first half. He also bailed out the Texans and Gary Kubiak who were struggling with a tie game until Foster broke free.

So far there hasn’t been any news explaining why Foster was benched. Because it was a surprise benching, the best guess is it was due to a violation of team rules. Often times when there are surprises like this, it’s related to a player screwing up on a road trip by being late to a meeting, flight, or curfew. Knowing that the team was on the road in Oakland, it’s plausible something happened along these lines. Good thing it didn’t cost the Texans in the win column.

UPDATE: Foster was benched for missing a team meeting and being late to another.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

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