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The New Arian Foster?

The new Arian Foster? Emerging NFL back goes Mini-Me to honor Texans game changer

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Ben Tate Texans bow
Ben Tate paid homage to the injured Arian Foster after one of his touchdown runs. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Ben Tate Texans Pats run
Ben Tate believes he's one of the best running backs in football. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Arian Foster Texans Pats sidelines
Arian Foster — shown here with Brian Cushing — watched the Houston Texans' latest close loss from the sidelines. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Ben Tate Texans bow
Ben Tate Texans Pats run
Arian Foster Texans Pats sidelines
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Ben Tate speeds through the Houston Texans' locker room on a Segway, making enough quick cuts on the device to make Arian Foster proud.

Yes, while Foster is injured — and keeping himself far from the media's sight — Tate seems determined to keep the all-everything running back's traditions alive. So there's Tate using Foster's preferred method of transport to get around Reliant Stadium. And there's Tate breaking into Arian's signature Namaste bow after scoring a touchdown.

Ben Tate hasn't exactly become Foster's Mini-Me. But it's not far off either.

Now he just needs to put together Arian Foster-like performances on the football field. His 22-carry, 102-yard, three-touchdown day in Sunday's 34-31 loss to the New England Patriots is a good start. But no Texan — outside of first-year starting quarterback Case Keenum — can benefit more from a great finish than Ben Tate.

 Ben Tate hasn't exactly become Foster's Mini-Me. But it's not far off either. 

With the Houston Texans (2-10) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9) playing a national spotlight Thursday night game that could essentially hand the lucky loser the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Tate knows he needs some winning performances.

The former Auburn star becomes a free agent after this season and in a league where running backs are becoming increasingly downgraded (thanks Trent Richardson), Tate would benefit greatly from a run of good games.  

He averaged 4.6 yards per carry against the Patriots — only the second time he's averaged more than four yards a carry in the last 10 games. With four games left, including Thursday night, the run for Tate's future starts now. He has a decent chance to post his first 1,000-yard season (needing 354 yards in the final four games). More importantly, he needs to leave NFL general managers with visions of some impressive runs.

Tate believes he's one of the best running backs in football. He just happens to have been stuck behind Foster in Houston, whose own transcendent talent became more and more apparent from the moment he went missing from the Texans' offense.

With Foster sidelined after back surgery and Tate's own departure from Houston after this season all but assured, the understudy is embracing his mentor/sometime competitor. Tate made sure to let Foster — who watched the Texans from the sidelines in sweats Sunday — know that the Namaste bow was coming.

"I think that meant a little bit to him," Tate says. "I could tell he was surprised when I told him I was going to do that."

Having broken his ankle before his rookie season — a circumstance that opened the door for Foster to emerge as a superstar talent — Tate knows how hard it is watch others play.

"It was a salute to the big homey," Tate says of making sure to recognize Foster. "He is finally back here with us, but he is out and I know how tough it is on him to watch us play out there. This is something that he loves doing.

"I miss having him around — the competition of it, somebody to talk to, somebody to cut up with."

 No Texan — outside of first-year starting quarterback Case Keenum — can benefit more from a great finish than Ben Tate. 

Tate knows he'll likely be a lead back somewhere else next season. He'll have to get used to setting the tone for a team. He'll surely take some of those lessons from Foster.

Games like Sunday are a good start. Everyone's been impressed by Tate playing through four broken ribs. But the NFL remains a ruthless, bottom line production league. One hundred yard games mean more.

"I think he’s incredibly tough," Keenum says of Tate. "I said it when (the broken ribs) happened that he came back in. It was great to see him get going and find a rhythm and get into the zone — and get into the end zone." 

The best backup running back in the NFL has a chance to prove how starter worthy he is over the next four games. Earning a postgame visit to the NFL Network set Thursday night would be a heck of a start toward the finish Ben Tate needs.

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