Arian Foster, the NFL's leading rusher in 2010, played the entire season with a torn meniscus in his knee, keeping the secret for fear of losing his job, the Houston Texans running back told the Sporting News last week.
Foster, who rushed for 1,616 yards (the highest single-season total for an undrafted player), sustained cartilage damage during the Pro Bowl on Jan. 30, then underwent what was described as minor arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in February.
In an interview last week on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access," Foster attributed his numbers to "hard work and opportunity."
"My responsibility and my job is to make sure the people in the front office don't replace me, because every single day, they're looking to replace me," he said. "And so I have to make sure I block with the best, run with the best and catch with the best. That's my job."
Ranked 25th on the NFL Network's "The Top 100 Players of 2011," Foster responded by saying he's a big fan of his contemporaries, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, but he believes his all-around game set him apart.
"The thing that I think is unique about my game is in all aspects of the game, I feel like I excel at," Foster said. "... I feel like I block with the best in the game, I can catch with the best in the game and I can run with the best in the game."
The Texans finished last season with a disappointing 6-10 record but retained coach Gary Kubiak. Wade Phillips has been hired as defensive coordinator and will institute a 3-4 scheme. The Texans are prepared to be aggressive in free agency, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reports, and will be among the teams pursuing All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
"There were times where the offense didn't finish drives at the end of the game," Foster said. "And there were times when the defense didn't finish drives at the end of the game. I think as a team you have to finish, and I think that's our main thing. We have to learn how to finish."