For the 8 years the Texans have been in the league, they have never been known to have had a solid backfield. Before 2008, the only Texans RB of note was Domanick Davis-Williams. Ever since his career ending knee injury in 2005, the Texans have failed to produce a consistent rusher for the team, cycling though running backs such as Ron Dayne, Wali Lundy, Samkon Gado, Chris Taylor, Darius Walker, and most notably Ahman Green.
After yet another injury to Ahman Green in week 1 of the 2008 season, rookie RB Steve Slaton of West Virginia burst onto the scene during week 3 in Tennessee (The week 2 game vs the Ravens was rescheduled due to Hurricane Ike), rushing for 116 yards against a stout Titans defense. Slaton was a starter at the position for the remainder of the season, leading all rookies in rushing with 1,282 yards. However, Slaton suffered from a severe neck injury early in the 2009 season, and was finally placed on IR after a week 12 loss in Indianapolis. He finished the season with a dismal 437 yards rushing, only averaging 3.3 yards per carry.
Throughout the mix of RB’s during the 2009 campaign, former Titan and now former Texan Chris Brown was brought on the team to get the tough yards that smaller backs might otherwise not be able to get. He failed to do so, twice failing to score tying touchdowns at the goal line late in games against the Jaguars and Cardinals. He was not retained by the team after the season.
Well, after Slaton’s injury, Ryan Moats carried most of the load. He quickly fumbled away his job, opening the way for undrafted rookie RB Arian Foster of Tennessee. In the final 2 games of the season, Foster rushed for 216 yards at 5.5 yards per carry. His effort included a game tying touchdown followed by a game winning touchdown against the Patriots in the final week of the regular season, propelling the Texans to their first winning record in franchise history. Although he only saw limited action in his rookie season, it is believed that he could be competing for the Texans starting RB job during Training Camp.
Also added to the mix for the upcoming season is Texans 2nd round pick from Auburn, RB Ben Tate. Tate is a powerful back who has displayed his aggressiveness along with his break away speed on the field. Regardless of who starts at the position, Tate is expected to be a heavy contributor to the Texans running game in 2010.
With the return of Steve Slaton in 2010, who is expected to return to his rookie form, the continuing progression of Arian Foster, and the bright addition of Ben Tate, the Texans 2010 backfield appears to have a promising future. It is highly believed by both the coaches and the fans that any one of these three players could be capable starting backs next season for the Texans. This is a must watch position battle that will take place during training camp. In any case, what was once always a position of question is now a position of strength and potential going into next season.
- During RB Steve Slaton’s rookie campaign in 2008, he was the only player to rush for over 100 yards against the Titans defense. He did it twice, in weeks 3 and 15.
- RB Arian Foster was being projected by some as being a future 1st or 2nd round pick in the NFL Draft. After being plagued by injuries in 2006, he quickly fell off the radar as a top college RB. After going undrafted in 2009, Foster signed with the Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent. He spent a majority of the season on the Texans practice squad.