Texans fans and fantasy owners are hopeful that Arian Foster will play Sunday. (Bill Haber/AP)

Texans coach Gary Kubiak said his star rusher “practiced fine” on Thursday before he left practice early with what Kubiak later termed “a sore knee.” An MRI revealed no damage.

On Friday, Foster told reporters that the soreness was not concentrated in his knee but rather “around the knee area.” But Foster said he expects to play against Miami.

Foster is one of a number of top-flight running backs whose Week 1 status remains uncertain. Adrian Peterson desperately wants to play in Minnesota’s opener, but the Vikings may decide to give him one more week to get back into shape following reconstructive knee surgery. A back spasm flare up this week has Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch now considered a game-time decision, too.

In Pittsburgh, Rashard Mendenhall was a surprising addition to the team’s active roster despite his continued recovery from a torn ACL, but he is listed as doubtful this week. Meantime Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew, who led the league in rushing last season but held out for a new contract and missed the entire preseason, is expected to play Sunday at Minnesota, but in a limited role.

The 26-year-old Foster, who rushed for 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns on 278 carries to lead the Texans to their first playoff berth a year ago, missed three games at the start of 2011 due to a strained hamstring.

The news has fantasy owners frantic and searching for replacement options should he miss Sunday’s opener. If Foster cannot go, Ben Tate is expected to get the start — and he could make a major impact.

With Foster sidelined early last season, Tate racked up 301 yards over the first three weeks of the season.

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