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Houston Texans

Slaton wins award


EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is an article on rookie running back Steve Slaton courtesy of Khalil Garriott at, the official website of the NFL Players Association.

Last year, it was difficult to make a case that there was a more physically talented collegiate running back than Steve Slaton. Five weeks into his NFL career, it's ironically those expectations which have led to the former West Virginia star wanting to disprove his naysayers.

Slaton admits he has a sizeable chip on his shoulder after falling into the third round of the April draft (89th overall) to the Houston Texans. Now out to show that he can be a starting running back in the league, that mindset helped Slaton have another strong game on his way to Rookie of the Week honors from NFLPLAYERS.COM.

Though Houston (0-4) suffered a devastating 31-27 loss at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts, Slaton stood out as a bright spot, carrying the ball 16 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns. With the Texans rolling to a 27-10 lead after Slaton's second score, the Colts scored 21 unanswered points in 2:10 to escape with an improbable victory.

"This is hard to imagine," Slaton told following the game. "We've just got to play hard the whole game. We kind of slacked up there at the end. We played a great three quarters, but then we gave them a little fresh air."

As he continues to impress the Texans coaching staff, Slaton will see his playing time and number of carries increase. Now listed atop the team's depth chart at running back (ahead of Ahman Green), Slaton appears to be the young Texans' featured back for the future.

"I think I have a good shot at [starting]," Slaton said. "There's still a long way to go in the season and anything can happen, but I think I've proven that I have that ability."

Slaton, who scored on a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs on Sunday, can find a silver lining amid his team's fourth-quarter collapse against a division foe. By notching his third start in place of Green, he further established his importance to the Texans running game by pushing his season totals to 285 yards rushing and four total touchdowns. Both marks lead the team.

"I think I did pretty well," the 5-foot-9, 203-pound rookie said. "I know I still need to eliminate mistakes. Being consistent is the biggest thing for a running back."

{QUOTE}Fans who attended Houston's 100th game in franchise history—its 63rd consecutive sellout at home—have to be encouraged by what they saw in the offense. Led by Slaton, Houston outrushed Indianapolis 156 yards to 79 and recorded 23 first downs. The Texans' 391 yards were the most in a home opener, surpassing the 336 yards gained against San Diego in 2004.

Sage Rosenfels, starting at quarterback because Matt Schaub became ill on Saturday night, said getting the running game going helps his team tremendously.

"The running game helps everything. It helps our defense, it helps the play-action," Rosenfels said. "We did a phenomenal job. Steve Slaton and Ahman Green ran great [Sunday]. The offensive line was really tremendous. And part of that, the game plan for any team that wants to beat the Colts, calls to run the ball well and we did that."

At a critical juncture, Rosenfels tried to make a big play by running the ball for extra yardage—but ended up on his back after a helicopter-like tackle that has been a fixture on the highlight reels. But Slaton didn't fault his quarterback for the costly fumble on a play which would have been a big spark for the home team in need of a lift.

"It's a team game," Slaton said. "You can't place the blame on just one person. As a team, you just win or lose."

On Sunday, Slaton became the first Texans rookie to score a touchdown in three consecutive games and the first one to rush for two touchdowns in a game since Domanick Williams ran for a pair of scores against the Colts five seasons ago. Slaton's 41-yard scamper in the fourth quarter was the second-longest run of his young NFL career, and tied for the fourth-longest run from scrimmage in team history.

Though statistics like those are aiding the speedy first-year tailback in his quest to gain more confidence, he knows he must continue to produce in order to keep his starting job.

"It's still a long season, and each game you're going to have to keep performing to keep that spot," Slaton said.

The 22-year-old tailback has taken extra steps in his preparation for the NFL, primarily by seeking out advice from veterans in the locker room and by studying more game tape than he did at WVU. In addition to carrying the load in the ground game, he wants to prove his worth as a receiving threat out of the backfield.

"I still need to be a little more versatile," said Slaton, who has 16 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown on the season. "I want to run better and catch more passes and show I can do it all."

After finishing Sunday's game with the highest rushing total by a Texans player in a home opener, Slaton hopes that momentum will carry over into a Week 6 matchup with Miami.

"This was a dream," Slaton said. "Starting in the NFL has always been my dream. I figure all the hard work I've put in in college has finally paid off. I hope I can keep it going," he concluded.

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