Season in review: Running backs

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Rookie Arian Foster picked up 119 yards in the season finale against the Patriots.

Heading into the 2009 campaign, second-year back Steve Slaton and the Texans were hoping he'd improve upon his 1,200 yard rookie season. That never happened, and the Texans at various times gave the ball to Ryan Moats and Chris Brown with limited degrees of success. The final two weeks of the season featured excellent performances by rookie Arian Foster, but in all, the Texans were 30th in the league in yards per game with just under 93.

SEASON IN REVIEW: Running backs

Position coach: Chick Harris (29th NFL season, 8th with Texans)

Week 1 starter: Slaton

Week 17 starter: Foster

Key injuries: Slaton (shoulder, Week 13)

By the numbers (top statistical performers): Slaton (131 carries, 437 yards), Moats (4 rushing TD), Foster (4.8 yards/carry)

Season overview: As Slaton was a revelation in 2008, his sophomore campaign in the NFL saw him average just 3.3 yards per carry and fumble seven times. Ultimately, he was shut down for the season in Week 13 because of injury. Still, he wound up leading the running backs crew in carries and yardage, as well as starts with 10.

{QUOTE}He was solid catching the football, finishing with 9.5 yards per catch and four touchdown receptions. He was also fifth on the team in receiving yardage with 417.

The finest performance by a Texans ball-carrier came in Week 8 at Buffalo, as Moats came off the bench to rush for three scores and 126 yards on 23 carries. He finished the season second on the squad in carries and yardage, with 101 and 390 respectively.

Foster, an undrafted rookie, started the final game of 2009 at home against New England and carried 20 times for 119 yards and a pair of scores in the victory. The week before against the Dolphins, he led the way with 97 yards on 19 rushes, scoring once on a 17-yarder in the first half. His emergence at the end of the season was an undeniable bright spot.

"This league is all about opportunities," Foster said. "I got an opportunity and I feel like I made the best of it."

After Slaton went on the injured reserve, Brown started all four games in December. His strengths were in pass protection, and when he carried the ball he gained 3.4 yards per.

Ultimately, the Texans averaged 3.5 yards per carry, and head coach Gary Kubiak was extremely disappointed.

"It wasn't good enough," Kubiak said. "We weren't physical enough from that standpoint, regardless of where you start: up front, backs, fullbacks, whatever. I want to see our team improve in that phase."

2010 outlook: Slaton and Foster are both under contract for 2010, while Moats will be a restricted free agent if there's no new collective bargaining agreement, and an unrestricted free agent in the event a CBA is in place.

CBA or not, Brown is an unrestricted free agent.

A healthy Slaton combined with Foster having more experience makes the 2010 running back position an intriguing spot. Foster, however, said he expects nothing is a given and outlined his plans for the offseason.

"I (will) stay working," Foster said. "I'm going to go out in the offseason just like I did last offseason, with a chip on my shoulder and try to prove what I can do in this league."

Join the "I'm A Texan Club" and check out Drew's profile at *http://www.imatexan.com/profiles/drewdougherty/*

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