The Texans’ season-long effort to keep star running back Arian Foster healthy and primed for the playoffs will start in Week 1.

Foster has impressed coach Gary Kubiak and teammates since being activated Aug. 21 from the physically unable to perform list. But the Texans plan to alternate Foster’s carries with second-string running back Ben Tate on Monday during a regular season-opener at San Diego allowing Foster to gradually work his way into a four-month season and giving Tate an increased initial role in the offense after an injury-plagued 2012.

“We’re going to rotate” Kubiak said Saturday at Reliant Stadium. “First off I think Arian’s condition is excellent. His practice this week has been just excellent. He’s a worker — that’s why he plays well — and I’ve been impressed by how he’s held up. But I think it’s early in the season; I don’t know how warm it’s going to be up there. But I think we’re smart to play them both and obviously we’ll see how Arian holds up from that standpoint. But I don’t think we’re looking at the majority load that we maybe look at when he’s rolling.”