In part 2 of the continuing breakdowns of the Texans positions by Toro Times writers, we analyze the running backs. Steve Slaton had a sophomore slump, Chris Brown couldn’t do anything right, Ryan Moats fumbled away his job, and Arian Foster was the only bright spot for the position in 2009. The team finished the season ranked 30th in total rushing offense, quite a step back from where they were in 2008. With the departure of Moats and Brown, and the addition of rookie 2nd round pick Ben Tate, the Texans will be looking for a better running game in 2010.
Steve Slaton (2009)
437 rushing yards – 3.3 avg
3 TDs – 7 fumbles – 5 lost
Arian Foster (2009)
257 rushing yards – 4.8 avg
3 TDs – 1 fumble – 1 lost
Anthony North –
Before I begin, here’s an article I wrote highlighting the Texans 2010 running backs.
After having a very successful run game ranked 13th in 2008, the Texans took a huge step back finishing 30th in 2009. This stat along shows how much the Texans and their fans miss the episodes of Ahman Green. (Just kidding) RB Steve Slaton, who had 1282 rushing yards (4.3 avg) for his rookie season in ’08, had just 437 rushing yards (3.3 avg) in ’09 after a series of injuries and setbacks. Although there were some bright spots for Slaton in ’09, his season was for the most part a big disappointment. After just being cleared by the doctors to participate in the upcoming training camp after neck surgery, things are looking up for Slaton. If he can stay healthy and still provide the element of speed at RB for the Texans, things should go well for him and the team in 2010. But remember, not only can he run the ball, but he’s considered to be the Texans best receiving back.
Next on the list is Arian Foster, who joined the Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2009. He didn’t get to see the field until late in the season, but when he did, he had good production. His two touchdowns against the Patriots helped push the Texans to their first winning season in franchise history. Foster may not have as much speed as Slaton, but he knows how to make his cuts and has some extra power to go along with it. It’s already been announced that Foster will head into the Texans 2010 training camp as the starting running back, but he’ll have to do well to retain his role.
Then there’s Texans rookie 2nd round pick RB Ben Tate. Tate is a good prospect at the running back position with great breakaway speed and power. Tate is expected to eventually be the starting running back for the Texans, with Foster backing him and up and Slaton complementing them both. After an injury setback in OTAs, Tate impressed Houston coaches in the final few practices of the offseason. I’m expecting Tate to be starting by week 12, unless Foster ends up having great production leading up to that point. You don’t draft a running back in the 2nd round to be a backup, so the expectations should be high for him in 2010.
Also, you can’t forget about fullback Vonte Leach. He may not be a star on the team, but his blocking contributions go widely uncredited when the Texans are running the ball well. Leach can also surprise some teams by catching the ball in the flats at times. Also on the Texans roster is former Titan HB Chris Henry. Henry, who has shown some progression in his time with the team, isn’t expected to make the Texans final roster for 2010.
Cameron Butler –
The Texans running game in 2008 was superb with Steve Slaton carrying almost all of the workload. Originally, Slaton was drafted to fill in as a third-down back. In week three of his rookie season, he took over as the full time running back. One-thousand two-hundred and eighty-two yards later and he was leading all of the league’s rookie backs in rushing. In 2009, it was a completely different story. In his best game all season, he only managed 76 rushing yards. In total, Slaton only finished with four games over 50 rushing yards. Soon after, he was pulled due to a neck injury and placed on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
No doubt in 2010 he wants to get back into his rookie form. This time around he will be aided by the newest Texans edition, Ben Tate, and a returning rookie from ’09, Arian Foster. Tate was highly praised as a one-cut and go runner in college. Last year at Auburn, Tate ran for over 1,000 yards. His college career suffered though by switching offensive styles four different times. And Arian Foster, who rushed for the first time starting in week 14, finished last season strong by helping the Texans beat the Dolphins and Patriots to help the Texans finish 9-7 for their first ever winning season.
The outlook for the Texans offense this season is the same as it was the last. Matt Schaub will have a lot more help from the running game this season. Overall Ben Tate, Arian Foster, and Steve Slaton could all be three-down backs. Ensuring a good rotation is key, especially to kill more of the clock in games unlike last year. If Slaton can prove he can hold on to the ball, he will more than likely start as the teams first back. Foster will also need to show the coaches he just wasn’t a flash in the pan. Tate comes into training camp with a crowded back-field and more to prove being the highest drafted running back for the Texans in their eight year history.