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An Arian Foster Surprise

Arian Foster poised for his best season ever: Watch out Adrian Peterson — and 2,000 yards

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Arian Foster smiling training camp
Arian Foster is as focused and as ready for a season as his Houston Texans teammates have ever seen. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Arian Foster catch Texans camp
Arian Foster seems poised for the best season of his NFL career. Which would be quite a season considering he racked up 2,220 yards in 2010. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
DeAndre Hopkins catch Texans camp
Arian Foster has kept quiet, letting the attention focus on players like DeAndre Hopkins. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Bob McNair Texans camp
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair took in the first day of training camp. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Arian Foster Brian Cushing Texans
Brian Cushing and Arian Foster share a moment inside the practice bubble at Houston Texans training camp. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Arian Foster Colts run
Arian Foster has set a very high standard for himself. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Arian Foster smiling training camp
Arian Foster catch Texans camp
DeAndre Hopkins catch Texans camp
Bob McNair Texans camp
Arian Foster Brian Cushing Texans
Arian Foster Colts run
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

Arian Foster's somehow almost willed himself under the radar, happily ceding the spotlight to teammates much less accomplished and frankly, less interesting, than himself. The eighth best player in the entire NFL (by virtue of an on-point NFL 100 — yes, Foster more than deserves to be that high) hasn't done any type of group interview with the Houston media since before he injured his calf in late May.

He runs off the field after the Houston Texans first training camp practice Friday without talking again, telling reporters he'll get them "tomorrow." "You've got my word," Foster says. Yes, Foster is the rare player who can make a no comment interesting.

Which has pretty much become Arian Foster's fallback position. He's been silent on Twitter since March 4, keeping a vow that few expected him to be able to maintain.

Yet Foster teammates — and anyone who's really been paying attention out at the Methodist Training Center — almost can't help but notice No. 23 more than ever. They see a storm brewing. One that figures to cause plenty of commotion once the season begins for real.

 "This is the most focused I've seen (Arian) since he's been here. He's just going to work. He's going to have his best season ever." 

For Arian Foster doesn't appear to be stewing. He's preparing. With a ferocity that's drawn notice in the locker room.

"This is the most focused I've seen (Arian) since he's been here," left tackle Duane Brown tells CultureMap. "He's just going to work.

"He's going to have his best season ever."

Arian Foster's best season ever is already quite the bar. This is a guy who racked 2,220 yards from scrimmage in 2010, when he clearly was the best running back in football. Yet Brown isn't the only one who is envisioning a dominant 2013 from Foster.

Texans general manager Rick Smith sounds almost eerily like Brown when he makes his first Texans Radio appearance from training camp. Smith's noticed Foster's relentless work as well.

"I harken back to a couple years ago before he had his monster season — his offseason work was incredible (then)," Smith says. "He's taken the same approach this offseason.

"Every indication, he's going to have a big year."

Adrian Peterson's Equal?

I wrote about Arian Foster standing out from the first day of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) back in May. Your eye couldn't help but be drawn to No. 23. Even in shorts and long sleeves, his explosive first burst jumped out.

The minor calf injury that has put Foster on the preseason PUP (Physically Unable To Perform) list for the beginning of training camp is not enough to dampen that truth. In fact, Foster still commands attention when he's just catching balls from the Jugs Machine during a break in the first training camp practice.

With his gray Texans hat turned backwards, Foster gobbles up pass after pass. The contrast between how Foster and the other high-profile veteran PUP dweller Ed Reed are moving is striking. Foster looks ready to play right now.

And if you listen to Texans coach Gary Kubiak, he pretty much is.

"He's had a good summer," Kubiak says of Foster. "He's been here every day."

 At his very best, Arian Foster is the closest thing the NFL has seen to Barry Sanders in a long, long time. 

That may be the unexpected side benefit of the calf injury. It's almost forced Arian Foster to train even more — and this was a guy already determinedly attacking the offseason. Yes, he'll sit out the first week of training week. But that's a blip that will quickly be forgotten.

"I've been talking to Arian," Brown says. "I know what he's setting out to do."

At his very best, Arian Foster is the closest thing the NFL has seen to Barry Sanders in a long, long time. Adrian Peterson separated himself from everybody again with his remarkable 2,000-yard, ACL tear comeback season. But Foster is capable of closing the gap much quicker than most expect.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft — who went out of his way to seek out Foster after the Texans season ended in Foxborough last January — understands as much. As does Ray Lewis, who counseled Foster after a much closer road playoff loss the year before.

You have to be an idiot (or 610 AM's Nick Wright) to seriously argue that Arian Foster is overrated. The numbers he put up last season with the right side of the Texans offensive line in serious flux and Andre Johnson the only legitimate wide receiver threat are pretty remarkable. The 26-year-old undrafted Foster is already one of the all-time great success stories in NFL history.

And his best season is still to come. That's a frightening thought for the rest of the NFL. And one that's quietly building in Texans training camp.

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