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Practice report: Slaton vs. Forte


The Texans are looking for their fourth win in December, which would be the most wins in a single month in franchise history. They will face the Chicago Bears, who beat the Packers on Monday night and need a win over Houston to earn a trip to the playoffs.

Slaton vs. Forte: Three rookie running backs rank in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing yards: Tennessee's Chris Johnson (sixth with 1,228 ypg), Houston's Steve Slaton (seventh with 1,190 ypg) and Chicago's Matt Forte (eighth with 1,188 ypg).

Johnson has gotten most of the hype because the Titans have the best record in football and are considered a Super Bowl contender. But Slaton showed him up in their last meeting on Dec. 14 when he ran for 100 yards and the Texans' defense held Johnson to 65 yards on the ground.

On Sunday, Slaton will get a chance to do prove he's the best back in the rookie class when the Bears visit Reliant Stadium. Forte is coming off a 73-yard performance against the Packers and struggled early in the game. He doesn't have Slaton-like speed, but he can break off big runs and pound the ball through the tackles.

"He (Forte) doesn't play like a rookie," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "I know there are a lot of rookie running backs in this league that are playing great, and we have one ourselves. But anytime you get a rookie and most of the offense revolves around that one guy, you know you've got your hands full. We know that for us to win this football game, we've got to contain him. We've got to stop him."

As far as comparing Slaton to Forte, Robinson had this to say:

"He's (Forte) a different back. He's bigger than Steve, but I think maybe he runs with more power. But they can give you the same thing. Steve's a good running back. He's a good running back and they're both good receivers out of the backfield. So, I think the comparison is pretty close."

Stacking up against the Tampa 2: The Texans will have their hands full with the Bears' defense, which ranks fourth against the run and gives up just 91.3 yards per game. Chicago runs a Tampa 2 and harasses the quarterback with an aggressive blitz scheme.

"I think (Bears head coach) Lovie (Smith) is very aggressive from a standpoint of they're trying to score on defense and they'll come and get you all over the field," coach Gary Kubiak said. "You know, (they are) willing to blitz you a bunch and create a lot of gap situations for you inside."

{QUOTE}Quarterback Matt Schaub said he is ready to take the heat. In fact, Schaub has had a lot of success against the blitz because the Texans' receivers have been able to beat their defenders in man coverage.

"Bottom line is you have to go out and make the plays to win and to be successful," Schaub said. "You know when they blitz, you know you're going to have one-on-one coverage and if you win, then you're going to have plays down the field."

Texans look for meaningful win: A win over the Bears on Sunday would give the Texans an 8-8 record and send them into the offseason with some momentum. The Texans would end up 4-1 in December with wins over playoff-caliber teams like Chicago, Tennessee and Green Bay.

"For us, it's a lot like playing Tennessee," Kubiak said. "That's the type of team they are. They're a big defensive-oriented football team, very, very physical. They run the football. They're tremendous on special teams.

"That's what we need, especially after what we went through last week. We need a team that's going to come in here and that's going to play as good as they can play, and this team will. We need a big-time test as we end this season and we're looking forward to it."

The Bears (9-6), who are contention for the NFC North, won their third straight and rallied from a 14-3 halftime deficit to do it. To stay in the playoff picture, Chicago must beat Houston.

"I know it's a huge game for them and they have an excellent chance to get in the playoffs if they win," Kubiak said. "So, it's a good test for us. It's something we need to come right back and play this type of game."

Injury notes: Xavier Adibi was limited in practice after missing Sunday's game with a knee injury. Safety Nick Ferguson (knee) did not practice.

For the official injury report, click **here**.

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