Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 7/28/12
Arian Foster is a smooth runner and an alternative thinker, but he's got some coyness in his game too. So you can be forgiven for detecting a smirk that may or may not have even been there when Foster talks about his decision to go vegan. "I don't know why it got so much attention," Foster said. "There's other vegans." Maybe Foster is learning something about the nature of celebrity. He would be a fitting study in that. Undrafted out of Tennessee three years ago, Foster signed a 43.5 million contract this offseason, was in consideration for the Madden cover and analyzed playoff games for CBS. It has been that kind of an offseason for Foster and the Houston Texans. They're hot, they're trendy, sort of the "it" team in the AFC (whether or not they're the best). The franchise began its 11th training camp Saturday at the Methodist Training Center in Houston, and the storylines were equal parts football and whimsy. Coach Gary Kubiak, whose new flat-top haircut has now been copied by linebacker Connor Barwin, seemed to have learned all he knew about veganism from a brief conversation with Foster about it. "If you can't handle it," Kubiak said, "don't do it." Foster, who is listed at 229 pounds, says he is handling it fine. But nobody was really worried about him anyway. The Texans' real concerns are with quarterback Matt Schaub and receiver Andre Johnson, both of whom missed large chunks of last season with injuries. Schaub, who had a broken foot, and Johnson, who had a knee injury, both practiced Saturday. Seeing the two of them completing passes was a relief for everyone involved. "It was like riding a bike," Schaub said. It had been eight months since Schaub stood in a huddle. He had to watch from the sidelines as the Texans went to the playoffs for the first time. "As great as it was last year for our team, it was very disappointing for him personally," Kubiak said. Johnson had knee surgery in May and said even having his ankles taped felt weird because it had been so long. He couldn't wait to practice. "To be honest," he said, "I didn't sleep last night." Yes, people are very excited in Houston this year. The franchise's bugaboo, the defense, finally got fixed last season, and the core group of offensive skill-position players has been put back together again. The feeling seems to be that the Texans have a window of two or three years here, that the AFC South is immensely winnable, that the Patriots and Ravens are getting a little older and that the Texans have playoff experience now. The Super Bowl suddenly seems close enough to touch. This has created a new identity for the Texans. Like their quirky running back, the Texans are more famous now. People are interested in their haircuts and diet choices. They have expectations. They will tell you this does not matter. "Expectations don't matter," Foster said. They will tell you nothing has really changed. "I don't look at it any different," Kubiak said. "We didn't win the championship last year." Yes, there were football things to be discussed Saturday. There will be more football things to discuss in the coming weeks. But Saturday was not so much a day for that. Saturday was more a day about diets and haircuts. Fame things. To a point, anyway. Somebody asked Kubiak if he had ever considered veganism. "What do you think?" he said.
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