Playing through the pain of four cracked ribs, Tate will be running for more than just yardage and touchdowns over the next eight games. In the final year of his rookie contract, Foster's understudy is auditioning for his next job.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted Sunday that Houston can't afford both backs, meaning Tate -- pining for a lead role -- likely is headed elsewhere in 2014.
Just 25 years old, Tate has the talent and track record to net a major contract from a team in search of a foundation back. One possible suitor? How about the Cleveland Browns, who reportedly have coveted Tate as a potential free-agent addition since shipping Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in September.
Tate displayed brute toughness playing through the rib injury in last week's tight loss to the Colts. His 4.5 yards per carry on the ground in 34 career appearances suggests the potential and raw materials for a larger role, but the Browns will have competition for Tate's services if he takes off down the stretch.