Patriots defense wary of Miami running back Arian Foster

September 17, 2016

FOXBORO — The Miami Dolphins only managed 214 yards of total offense in Sunday’s season-opening 12-10 loss at Seattle, allowing the game-winning touchdown in the final minute.

They offer plenty of cause for concern for the Patriots, however. Miami’s loss came thanks in part to a crippling drop by Kenny Stills, who got behind the Seahawks secondary, but dropped a near-perfect deep ball from Ryan Tannehill.

“It’s been a good week of preparation and a good opportunity to go against a good team in Miami, who played really well last week and almost won a game in a really tough environment,” said Patriots defensive end Chris Long. “We’ve got a lot of challenges at hand and playing at home certainly helps.”

Gillette Stadium has not been kind to Miami. The Dolphins have not won in Foxboro since Sept. 21, 2008, when Ronnie Brown rushed for 113 yards primarily from a Wildcat formation and Miami ended the Patriots’ 21-game regular-season win streak.

That was also the last time Miami played in Foxboro in September, more often having to contend with cold weather in their trips north.

Miami had a difficult time contending with the Seahawks’ pressure as Tannehill was sacked five times and only rushed for 64 yards.

The Pats defense must still be wary of Arian Foster. While he was limited to 38 yards on 13 carries in his Dolphins debut after seven years in Houston, Foster added three catches for a team-high 62 yards, including a 50-yarder in the first quarter.

“He looks great. Arian looks like he’s healthy,” Long said. “He’s the same powerful runner who’s also elusive at the same time, plays really hard behind his pads and it’s going to be a big challenge. You’ve got to swarm to the football with a guy like that.”

The 30-year-old Foster only played in four games a year ago because of a groin injury and, later, a torn Achilles. He also missed half of 2013 because of a back injury.

Bill Belichick said that for the amount of times Foster handles the ball, he doesn’t go down to the ground very often.

“He gets pushed out of bounds or two or three guys tackle him, but he’s still standing there and they blow the whistle and the plays over, but I mean he’s not on the ground, and there are a lot of plays like that,” the coach said. “There are a lot of plays where he’s on the sideline. I wouldn’t say he runs out of bounds. He gets hit, he’s up, the defenders up, he ends up going out of bounds.

“That’s the way (John) Riggins used to run. Riggins would carry the ball 25 times a game but he’d only get tackled 15. There’d be another 10 plays where at the end of the play he’s still on his feet one way or another. I’d say that’s the thing that’s kind of — when you start looking at Foster and watching him get tackled — there are a lot of plays where he just doesn’t get tackled.”

What the Patriots don’t want to see Foster break free similar to the way the Cardinals’ David Johnson did in fourth quarter of last week’s 23-21 win in Arizona. Johnson showed agility to spin away from Vincent Valentine at the line of scrimmage, stiff arm his way past Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon before showing the speed for a 45-yard gain before McCourty tracked him down. That run helped set up Larry Fitzgerald’s TD catch that gave the Cards a 21-20 lead.