HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans wanted to establish their running game against the New Orleans Saints after failing to do so in their previous two preseason games.
Ben Tate helped them do just that.
Tate ran for 74 yards and a score before halftime filling in for Arian Foster, in the Texans' 31-23 loss to the Saints on Sunday.
"He looked very good," coach Gary Kubiak said. "He's been our one healthy veteran back. I think Ben's ready. I think he's going to have a really good year."
Foster returned to practice this week for the first time since May after dealing with calf and back injuries, but didn't play. Kubiak has said that Foster could start in Houston's opener Sept. 9 without getting a preseason snap.
"It was important for us going into this game to get the running game going and feel good about it going into San Diego," quarterback Matt Schaub said of Houston's opener.
Tate brushed off the notion that the right side of Houston's offensive line is going to be a weak spot for the team by asking: 'did you see us run today,' when questioned about it.
He wanted to use Sunday's game to show that he's ready for the season.
"I was definitely out to prove a point tonight and I feel like I got my point across," he said.
Here are five things we learned about the Saints and Texans on Sunday:
1. ANDRE'S STILL GOT IT: Houston's Andre Johnson answered critics who questioned whether the 32-year-old may have lost a step by piling up 131 yards receiving in the first half on Sunday. Johnson didn't play in the preseason opener and had less than a quarter of work last week. Against New Orleans, he grabbed seven of the eight passes thrown to him, highlighted by a 39-yard reception. "When we sit down and game plan I try to figure out ways to get Andre the ball," Kubiak said. "It's a compliment to the other guys that Andre's able to get the ball so much."
2. STILLS IS STEADY: New Orleans rookie Kenny Stills, a fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma, continued to impress with Marques Colston still sitting out with a left foot injury. Stills had four receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown last week and kept up his steady work with two receptions for 54 yards and another score on Sunday. "I'm getting more comfortable and getting more used to being out there," he said. "It's about playing football and having fun, and that's really all it is."
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