Steve Slaton became the latest Texans running back to fall victim to a hamstring injury on Thursday morning, bringing the team's healthy running back count down to two.
Slaton, who was praised by Texans coach Gary Kubiak on Sunday for "having a great camp," left practice early with a tweaked hamstring. With Arian Foster and Ben Tate already sidelined by hamstring injuries of their own, the Texans were left with running backs Derrick Ward and Chris Ogbonnaya for the remainder of practice.
"That seems to be the thing we've got going on right now, and we're being hit at one spot, so that makes it tough," Kubiak said of the recent hamstring injuries.
Kubiak said that Foster, who hasn't practiced since last Friday, is "doing fine." The Texans will continue to bring along the 2010 rushing champ slowly over the weekend.
"I actually watched him run today," Kubiak said. "We're just being hit at that one position pretty hard. My understanding is that Tate's got a chance to be back on the field tomorrow, so we'll have to see where Steve is."
Slaton, Tate and Ogbonnaya are competing for playing time – and perhaps roster spots – behind Foster and Ward. Tate, who missed his 2010 rookie season with a broken ankle, knows that each day he misses could be critical.
"I feel like this is a big camp for me," he said. "I need to be out there and I need the reps."
A second-round draft pick out of Auburn, Tate was competing for playing time as a rookie until he was injured in last year's preseason opener. He was medically cleared in February and fully healthy in camp this year until his hamstring started bothering him on Sunday.
"All through college, I think I might have missed one game for injuries," Tate said. "I might have missed one or two games my whole high school career. To get the opportunity that you have now to be at this dream level and then to just break your ankle and have a nagging hamstring is frustrating, because I am a guy who is known for being durable and not getting hurt. Maybe it's just a little phase right now, and hopefully once this hamstring is over with, I'll be good."