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Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Ball security a key for Foster vs. Tillman

By Jeff Dickerson

Arian Foster
Arian Foster hasn't given the ball away once this year, but he'll be tested Sunday.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Ball security has not been an issue for Houston Texans running back Arian Foster.

Foster, the NFL's fifth leading rusher with 770 yards, has zero fumbles in 192 carries through eight games.

But the ability of Foster and his teammates to hang onto the football will be put to the test Sunday night when they take on a Bears' defense that has forced 15 fumbles, seven courtesy of October's NFC Defensive player of the month Charles Tillman, who is fresh off a career game in Tennessee where he jarred the ball loose four times. Tillman leads all NFL defensive backs with 36 forced fumbles since 2003.

"(You need to be) very careful with the football," Foster said Wednesday during a conference call with the Chicago media. "That's one of the things he does very well. You watch film and he's been doing it for years. He's getting a lot of attention for it this year but he's been doing it for years.

"If you fumble the football as a running back you're not going to be carrying it for too long. It's something that is (hammered home) to you when you first get into the NFL and in college and everything too. You always have to be cognizant of all security because on this level you got ball hawks all over the defensive side of the ball."

As a team, Houston has done an exceptional job protecting the ball with six just turnovers (five interceptions, one lost fumble) and is sixth in the NFL in turnover ratio at +8 - the Bears are No. 1 in turnover ratio at +13.

“To be honest, protecting the ball is not something all of a sudden you take one week and say let’s work on it. We do it every day," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. "It’s going through chutes and stuff for all of our players that handle the ball. It’s just part of our process as we try to be a team that wins the turnover battle.

"We work real hard at it defensively too. It’s just something that you’ve got to work extremely hard at. There are some people that are exceptional at it, and they’ve kind of been over the top this year. They’ve been tremendous.”