Steve Slaton (Getty Images)
When Ahman Green went down early in the first preseason game, the Texans coaches and fan base were legitimately worried. Then Chris Brown’s sore back flared up and the team was down to a rookie third-round pick (Steve Slaton) and a third-year undrafted free agent (Chris Taylor). Both Slaton and Taylor played significant time against a very good Dallas defense last week and did not disappoint.
Chris Taylor finished the game with 11 carries for 47 yards while adding a 15-yard reception. Slaton totaled 10 carries for 44 yards. Down to their third and fourth running backs, the Texans ran the ball well while quarterback Matt Schaub took a few drives to get into rhythm.
“Offensively the big bright spots were the play of Chris Taylor and (Steve) Slaton,” head Coach Gary Kubiak said.
Both Taylor and Slaton were playing with the first team and against the Dallas first team defense last week.
“(They) got put in a situation against a dang good football team where they basically were the starters in the game even though Chris started the game,” Kubiak said of Taylor and Slaton. “They both rose to the occasion.”
Chris Taylor and Steve Slaton combined for 91 yards rushing, however, the aspect of their game that impressed Kubiak the most was the pass protection against a Dallas team which ended the 2007 season ranked third in the NFL in sacks.
“They played well in protection which is something we had been concerned about, and Dallas came after us a lot. We did not give up a sack,” Kubiak told reporters.
Slaton has been impressive all through the preseason with a 4.1 yards per carry average while leading the team in rushing. The third-round pick out of West Virginia has fans thinking they may have the next Brian Westbrook. On a 20-yard run against the Cowboys, Slaton bounced outside and cut up field before the linebackers knew what hit them.
Chris Taylor is second on the team in rushing this preseason with 100 yards. He’s been a contributor for two seasons after making the squad as an undrafted free agent out of Indiana. Versus the Cowboys, Taylor consistently gained between four and six yards carry after carry.
“They ran the ball extremely well and both of them got better as the game went on,” Kubiak said. “So, that’s the thing that we’re feeling best about today on the offensive side of the ball.”
With Ahman Green on the track to returning to action, the Texans will have a nice stable of running backs to use this season.