HOUSTON — Arian Foster was in his first season as a Texans starter in 2010 when the Ravens came to town.
When Baltimore LB Ray Lewis grabbed the running back after a play, he didn't know what to expect. Turns out Lewis was a fan and told Foster: "I love the way you play this game. You have a very, very bright future."
The pair have become friends, though that bond will be put aside during Sunday's division playoff game.
Foster was floored by the words from the 16-year veteran out of the University of Miami.
"I was having a little success, but he didn't have to do that. … It was kind of surreal," Foster said. "The whole game I was kind of just like, 'Ray Lewis just said ... .' "
"He's driven by a different burner inside," Lewis said. "He was an undrafted guy with a lot of talent, so he is fueled by something different. Anytime you add that type of fuel with talent you get Arian Foster."
Foster went undrafted out of Tennessee in 2009 and was picked up by the Texans as a free agent. He became a starter in 2010 and his career took off.
Foster said knowing Lewis appreciates what he went through is the best compliment he could receive.
"As a man who's played in this league, who's respected by everybody who plays this game … for him to say that, it's vindicating for everything that I've worked for just to be respected by your peers and not only your peers but one of the greatest defensive players to ever play the game," Foster said.
Ravens: RG Marshal Yanda revealed that he had emergency surgery on his right leg after a potentially fatal problem developed in a victory against the Browns on Dec. 24. After he got kicked in his lower leg, Yanda did not get adequate blood flow to tissues in the area, and surgeons had to split the muscle to relieve the pressure. "It was a nasty scar and a (bad) way to spend Christmas Eve," he said.
Broncos: Long snapper Lonie Paxton has been excused for most of the week to attend to a family matter, coach John Fox said without revealing specifics. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," Fox said. "He'll be day to day, just like all of our injuries." Fox wouldn't give specifics when asked if there's any concern Paxton might not play Saturday at New England. Russ Hochstein might be the fill-in.
Patriots: QB Tom Brady downplays a three-game postseason losing skid, saying: "I haven't thought about anything about last year or last week. I'm trying to think about today." T Matt Light said of the postseason skid: "I haven't talked with him about it, but he doesn't typically take losing too well. I've noticed that over the years."