Arian Foster returns to Houston Texans practice

Arian Foster is one step closer to playing for a Texans team that dearly needs him back in the lineup.

The Pro Bowl running back took part in team drills for the first time Thursday since undergoing groin surgery in August, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Coach Bill O'Brien told reporters this week that Foster wouldn't suit up for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, but the coach hemmed in that prediction on Thursday, saying: "We are slowly incorporating him back into practice. I wouldn't expect him this week but you never know."

"We've made a lot of progress in the rehab of my injury, and we're excited about that," Foster told the Chronicle last week. "I'm not happy because I would rather be out there with my teammates, but life happens and you got to roll with it. As far as being where I'm at, at this point, we're ahead of schedule and the doctors are pleased with it and so are the trainers."

Foster went on to say this would be his "best year," something the Texans sorely need after watching their offense struggle against the Chiefs in Week 1. Ryan Mallett has taken over at quarterback for the benched Brian Hoyer, but no matter the passer, Houston isn't the same without Foster on the field.

A combination of Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes helped the Texans run for 98 yards at an acceptable 4.7 yards per carry against Kansas City, but Foster gives the Texans a legitimate workhorse who forces defenses to respect the run. His return would go a long way toward aiding Houston's mediocre carousel of signal-callers.

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