Despite never carrying a heavy workload for the LSU football team, running back Alfred Blue emerged as a major contributor for the Houston Texans in 2014.
Former LSU Tiger Alfred Blue played a surprisingly large role for the Houston Texans during his rookie season last year.
After being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft with the 181st overall pick, nobody could have foreseen Blue emerging as the team’s primary backup to Arian Foster, but that is exactly what occurred last season.
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Blue finished the year with 528 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including 156-yard performance during a Week 11 victory over the Cleveland Browns, as he filled in as the starter with Foster sidelined with a groin injury. He also added another touchdown and 113 yards receiving on the season, while not fumbling the football once all year.
The biggest criticism of Blue’s rookie campaign was his lack of efficiency, which at 3.5 yards per carry, left much to be desired. With another offseason to improve as a player in head coach Bill O’Brien’s offense, however, Houston Texans fans should be optimistic about his outlook for the 2015 season.
What was your initial reaction when the Houston Texans selected Alfred Blue in the sixth round?
I honestly didn’t know much about him, which was strange considering I watch a lot of SEC football. After looking at his stats, though, I thought he had a chance to be a real player if he stayed healthy. I saw some production in his numbers during his limited time at LSU, which speaks volumes because of the competition he faced.
I did notice some people say he could have been a 7th rounder or free agent pick up, but that late in the draft you are looking for potential, and I like that Houston took who they wanted and didn’t leave it to chance that he would be there either in the 7th round or after the draft.
Could you have imagined that he would make as big of an impact as he did during his rookie season?
I could see that happening, given Arian Foster’s injury history (11 missed games the past two seasons). I think Foster is due for a somewhat healthy season, so I don’t predict as big of an impact this year, but he will be a solid option as a spell for Foster while being a stable option if called upon for more carries.
What are the areas he needs to improve in the most to establish himself as a reliable NFL running back going forward?
Really just the quick decision making. He averaged less than four yards per carry, but a lot of times for rookies that comes down to thinking too much and not just “feeling” the game. The important thing is he wasn’t a liability in pass coverage and proved he could carry a full workload in the NFL…which given his injury history is a huge win in itself.
It also wouldn’t hurt to get more involved in the passing game as a route runner. He only had 15 catches, and six of those came in the season finale.
Did anything in particular stand out to you during Blue’s first year in the NFL?
Just the fact that his history of getting hurt seemed like a distant memory. He carried the ball 36 times for 156 yards against Cleveland, which was highly impressive.
How do you see him fitting into Houston’s longterm plans? Could he be a potential replacement for Arian Foster down the road?
He could be a potential replacement. I think Houston will give him every opportunity, and with Bill O’Brien as the head coach, he has shown a willingness to go young and let guys like receiver Andre Johnson go in favor of the young guy DeAndre Hopkins.
I think this year goes a long way towards deciding Alfred’s longterm status in Houston. He doesn’t have to hit any certain number, but he must show he can still carry the load, stay healthy, and make the quick decisions when running the football.
What should we expect to see from Blue in 2015?
Shameless self promo time! I have a link here to my Player Projection Series at the Toro Times. I discuss all things about Alfred Blue, and give a little prediction for his season totals.
As a spoiler, I predict more effectiveness while carrying the ball, but less carries. I also predicted Foster to stay relatively healthy, which is the reason for less carries for Blue.
In the end, I have him at 4.5 yards per carry and two touchdowns. The important part of this to hold true is the jump in yards per carry. I look for him to show a big jump in understanding the game and the overall speed of the NFL.