Skip to main content
Houston Texans

Camp spotlight: Steve Slaton


There's a revolving door at the running back position in Texans camp, and at the moment it is stuck on Steve Slaton.

The Texans still want to go with veteran running back Ahman Green, but injuries have kept him more on the sidelines than on the field as he begins his second season with the Texans. Green made just one carry in the first preseason game before leaving the field with a pulled hamstring.

Slaton, a rookie third round draft pick from West Virginia, is trying to wedge himself into the picture, which is beginning to look like a running back by committee lineup if Green doesn't get healthy.

Chris Brown will start Friday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys, but Slaton will get a good look from coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

"I think he (Slaton) has earned a right to get some reps with that first group," Kubiak said. "We're going to probably go three quarters this week with our first group. Going against this team this week is as good as there is in the league, personnel-wise. So, yeah, he'll definitely become part of that."

{QUOTE}Slaton doesn't care how he gets on the field. He just wants to be there.

"I think when you've got a chance to get in there, you've got to make your best reads," Slaton said. "I think I've gotten a lot better. I've spent some time trying to work on what the coaches have been telling me about like blitzes."

Slaton sparkled in last week's preseason victory over New Orleans, so much so that he ran with the first team in practice this week. Still, he's not projecting himself into a starting role just yet.

"It's just my first year and it's only been a couple of months, so I have a lot to work on,'' Slaton said.

Against the Saints, he led the team in rushing, recording 57 yards on 13 carries. He also picked up a Saints blitz in the third quarter that allowed quarterback Sage Rosenfels to complete a 43-yard pass to David Anderson.

The Texans also have Brown, Chris Taylor, Marcel Shipp and Darius Walker in the mix. But for now, the spotlight is on Slaton and the coaches aren't afraid to pile on the workload.

"We've asked a lot of him," Kubiak said. "He's progressed every day. He's got a lot of self-confidence right now. I think he's starting to feel like, 'Hey, I can do this. I know I can contribute.'

"We'll keep pushing him forward. I don't think you can ever know how far a rookie can go, but this one shows no sign of us needing to let up on him."

The Texans initially saw Slaton as a third-down back who could make catches in the backfield. Because of Green's injury, the team is looking for Slaton to step up and become an every-down back as a rookie.

"I feel like I could do both," he said. "In college, I was an every-down back and I think I could do it on this level too. I need to work on pass protection and hitting the hole harder."

Slaton is smallish at 5-9, 200. He's heard that before and it doesn't matter.

"That's been on every level I ever had, high school and college and in the NFL, I 'm perceived to be too small," Slaton said. "But there are a lot of guys my size in the league. If they make it, I think I could do it too."

Slaton's biggest advantage is his speed. It's what allowed him to rush for 3,923 yards in college, which ranked third on West Virginia's all-time list.

"I can feel the speed on the field," Kubiak said. "When he's out there, you can feel his speed and the chance to make big plays and the kick off return. He's growing in what we are doing run-game wise."

Kubiak has tried hard in his first two seasons as head coach to build a strong running attack as a building block for the Texans' offense. Injuries have made it a difficult task.

Green missed 10 games last season with a deep knee burise and will be sidelined for the remainder of the presason. But Kubiak isn't giving up on seeing the Pro Bowler in the Texans' backfield on opening day.

"He tells me, 'Hey, listen, I'm fine. I'm going to be fine,'" Kubiak said. "Last year, it wasn't like that. I think he knew that he had a problem that he couldn't get cleaned up in a short period of time. So, I'm going to stay positive on it. I see him working. We all know what he can do for our team and we'll try to keep a positive approach to it."

For the time being, Slaton clearly is the bright spot in the Texans' running game.

"It's obvious that this kid's going to be a big part of it, if he keeps heading the way he's heading," Kubiak said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content