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Texans' run defense stepping up


Steve Slaton had a big afternoon in the win against the Bengals, amassing more than 140 yards of offense.

A day after their 28-17 victory at Cincinnati, the Texans' players had Monday off. Head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media during his weekly press conference.

Stopping the run: The Bengals gained just 46 yards on the ground on Sunday, a week after the Texans defense' allowed the Cardinals a mere 44 yards rushing and two weeks after Oakland ran for 45 yards versus Houston.

All told, that's a combined 54 carries for 135 yards, with the three teams averaging a puny 2.5 yards per attempt. Those numbers are a sharp contrast to the first three contests of the season, when each of the Texans opponents' produced a 100-yard rusher.

"Obviously, we've been excellent from that standpoint," Kubiak said. "I wouldn't say we're doing a whole lot differently. We've eliminated some mistakes, some assignment issues, and we've just been more sound in what we're doing and it's adding up to more plays."

Kubiak also explained that with the combination of defensive end Mario Williams' shoulder injury and the move to the inside of ends Antonio Smith and Tim Bulman, the Texans are thinner up front.

"It does scare you, because you are very small," he said. "They (Bengals) were a big offensive line, so some of Frank (Bush)'s calls were a little bit different. His first down calls were different with stunts and some blitzes and those type of things. That's okay, as long as you can handle them."

Kubiak said he and the Texans are "a little concerned" about Williams' shoulder, which he injured against the Raiders in Week 4. The Pro Bowler was in for a little more than 40 snaps against Cincinnati. He normally plays just about every snap.

Slaton stability: Running back Steve Slaton had a big day in Sunday's victory, cracking the century mark in receiving with 102 yards on six receptions. One of those catches was a 38-yard touchdown that gave the Texans a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.

Slaton also carried 19 times for 43 yards, accounting for 145 total yards on the afternoon. It was an excellent effort, but Kubiak is worried about Slaton's pair fumbles against the Bengals, which brought his season total to five.

"That's what concerns me more than anything right now," Kubiak said. "Steve's playing hard. He's much better in pass protection than he has been, but he's putting the ball on the ground throughout these first six games, so that's very concerning."

{QUOTE}Kubiak went on to say that practice this week will be different for Slaton, as the club will harp on his propensity for fumbling.

"Get everybody on the practice field yanking at the ball, basically working him over during practice," Kubiak said of how to try to solve the problem. "Making him pay more attention to just protecting the ball throughout the week. (Running backs coach) Chick (Harris) can do some drills with him before or after practice, but he knows that. He had a big fumble there late in the game that could've put them right back in the ballgame. But that's something Steve's got to get corrected."

On the whole, Kubiak said the Texans will continue to try and run the football with consistency, despite the 87-yard performance Sunday in Cincinnati.

"We have to continue to push our running game," he said. "(We had) 30 carries yesterday and 40 throws. There is some balance there, although yardage-wise, obviously, it was on the passing end. But it just does something for your team. What it does, for me, is time of possession. We come out of the game winning the time of possession."

What can Brown do?: Sunday's victory in Cincinnati was a banner day for a number of Texans. One player who turned in a quietly solid performance was running back Chris Brown.

The veteran ball-carrier picked up 45 yards on nine carries, with eight of those rushing attempts coming in the fourth quarter. His fourth-quarter performance enabled the Texans to chew up quite a bit of time on the clock and keep the Bengals' offense off the field.

"Chris responded yesterday," Kubiak said. "He was much better. He was especially good there at the end of the game in the fourth quarter. We had 30 carries in the game, and you get a chance to get a couple of guys going. Steve, of course, made his big plays mostly in the passing game, but Chris was very effective in what we asked him to do."

In the fourth quarter, Brown ran for a pair of two-yard gains, a couple of four-yarders, two six-yarders and a seven-yarder. His longest run was his final carry, a 10-yard gain that allowed Matt Schaub to take a knee for the final two plays of the game.

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