I got a lot of questions in my weekly live chat on Tuesday about Steve Slaton – namely, about his weight. The second-year running back put on about 10 pounds this offseason in order to help himself run between the tackles and withstand the rigors of a 16-game season.
After he's run for only 51 yards on 26 carries through two games, a lot of fans seem to be wondering if the weight is slowing him down.
Thing is, Slaton has lost a few of those pounds since training camp. He said today that he's at about 212 pounds, only four pounds heavier than his playing weight at the end of last season (208). In the final month of last season, presumably playing at that 208-pound weight, Slaton averaged 101.6 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry.
So what *has *been the issue with the Texans' running game?
"I think teams are scheming well," Slaton said. "It's only the third week, and this time last year we were still in the same stage, so it's nothing to really panic about yet."
The Texans' first two games were against the Jets and Titans. Both teams had top-seven rushing defenses last year, and both teams probably will be in the top-10 again this year. Nothing went right for the Texans' offense against the Jets, and they had to abandon the running game after falling behind early. The Titans kept Slaton in check, but their determination to key on Slaton allowed Matt Schaub to throw for 357 yards and four touchdowns.
The biggest problem for Slaton this season has not been a lack of speed or quickness, but rather holding on to the ball. He has three fumbles in two games, already matching the total from his entire rookie season.
"I need to constantly have that on my mind: I've got to protect the ball," he said. "That's my job. I'm going to have a lot of touches, but I've got to limit the fumbles, limit the amount of times I'm going to turn it over."
From high school to the NFL, Slaton has made a career of thriving under adversity. He expects himself and the Texans' running game both to get back on track soon.
"What we did last year gives us a lot of confidence, because we know that we have the ability to have a running game," he said. "It's just a slow start now; teams are doing a good job against us. But I think once we get in a rhythm, once we get that big play off, I think everything will start rolling again."
Last year, it was Week 3 when a 50-yard run by Slaton at Tennessee catapulted him to a 1,282-yard rookie season. This time around, his Week 3 opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Slaton burned them for 182 total yards and two touchdowns at Reliant Stadium last December.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Slaton said of Sunday's game. "Hopefully, we can build on last year's success."