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Slaton feeling good


For all you fantasy players out there with Steve Slaton on your team, you can take a sigh of relief. The rookie running back took advantage of the Texans' three-day break this week to recover from a chest injury he suffered on Nov. 16 at Indianapolis.

Now, the 5-foot-9, 201-pounder is ready to take center stage on Monday Night Football and prove to the nation that he can light it up as an every-down back.

"It was always a dream to get to this point," Slaton said. "Now, you've just got to perform. There are a lot of people who are going to be watching. I've got to bring my 'A' game."

{QUOTE}Slaton, a third-round draft pick out of West Virginia, was selected by the Texans to be a third-down back. The plan was for Slaton to spell Pro Bowler Ahman Green, but just the opposite occurred after Green suffered a knee injury in the first game of the season. Slaton became the starter the following week and never turned back.

"We thought we were getting a third-down guy that had some speed," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We had no idea he would hold up the way he's held up. He's started 10 games now and not only held up, but held up when he's not feeling perfect.

"Those are the type of guys you want. When everything's not right, they're still giving everything they have, and last week's a big example of that from him."

Last Sunday at Cleveland, Slaton ran for 73 yards last week after compiling 156 in his previous game against the Colts. The coaches had game planned for Green to get a bulk of the carries because of Slaton's chest injury, but Green sprained his knee and was forced to leave the game early. The Texans placed Green on injured reserve several days later.

With Green gone for the season, Slaton's carries should increase. However, Kubiak doesn't want the rookie getting beat up like he did after participating in 69 plays earlier this month against the Vikings.

"He's very capable of playing 45, 50 plays a game," Kubiak said. "He's shown that. He's having a heck of a year. He's right there battling with some of these other guys around the league."

Through the first 11 games, Slaton ranks third among all rookies in combined rushing and receiving yards per game (972) and in scoring (6). He has rushed for 774 yards with an average of 70.4 yards per game. That puts him on pace to run for a team rookie record 1,126 yards this season.

"I feel at better than I thought I would at the end of the season," Slaton said. "I'm just trying to limit the mistakes. I'm trying to have more big plays than negative plays."

Against Jacksonville on Sept. 28, Slaton was held to 33 yards rushing, but he led the team with 83 receiving yards and a touchdown. Slaton has proven to the Texans' coaches that he can be a one-cut, uphill runner or a threat downfield. He's ready to showcase his abilities to the nation on Monday.

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