HOUSTON (AP) -It has been so long since the Houston Texans played that coach Gary Kubiak doesn't think of Steve Slaton as a rookie anymore.
Coaches and teammates alike say the running back's progress since the draft has been impressive. With Ahman Green out indefinitely because of an injured ankle, Slaton's development will be key to Houston's success.
Slaton will get his first start on Sunday against Tennessee as the Texans return to the field after missing a week because of Hurricane Ike. He had 13 carries for 43 yards and three receptions for 6 yards in Houston's loss to Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.
it's been a lot for him.''
When Slaton was drafted 89th by the Texans this year, they didn't envision him as the starter, instead projecting him to be the third-down back they've never had. Green and Chris Brown were expected to split the bulk of the carries, but with Brown out for the season with a back injury and Green nursing an ankle problem, the job fell to Slaton.
He ran for 3,923 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons with West Virginia, but many believed the 5-foot-9 player was small to be an every-down back in the NFL.
Either way, that's what he will have to be for Houston, at least until Green gets healthy.
``We need a guy like him to become one (heck) of a player really fast,'' Kubiak said. ``And if he does that it's going to help our team in the long haul. So there's no waiting anymore. He's a tough kid. We're counting on the kid doing it.''
The Texans managed 75 yards rushing in their opener and Slaton's first start will be against a defense that is allowing 60.5 yards rushing a game.
The key to success, Slaton believes, is studying the opposing team.
``Try to learn your opponent as best as you can,'' he said. ``It's going to make it easier if you know what they're going to do before they do it.''
ot having to do much of that in college. He's gotten advice from everyone since his NFL debut two weeks ago and he listens to all of it. Slaton said he tries to soak it all in to help him improve.
Slaton didn't expect to be starting this soon, but he certainly hoped for it.
``You have to,'' he said. ``You want to help out your team. You don't want to sit around. You want to do as much as you can.''
While Kubiak thinks he's already shaken his rookie status, Slaton, who is sometimes still forced to carry the shoulder pads and helmets of veterans, isn't quite ready to agree with his coach.
``I still feel like a rookie,'' he said. ``There's still a lot of stuff that I haven't seen. After I go through the season and learn the ups and downs, then I probably won't feel like a rookie anymore.''

Recent NFL Discussions

2017 NFL Draft Grades on Sun, Apr 2017 by Blade
Betting the 2017 NFL Draft on Tue, Apr 2017 by Blade
NFL Draft Preview on Tue, Apr 2017 by Blade
2017 Heisman Odds on Wed, Mar 2017 by Blade
College / NBA today on Sun, Mar 2017 by TtomBoBadly

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail NFL Draft Prop Odds The 2017 NFL Draft gets underway later tonight. Here is a look at some of the featured prop odds for tonight’s first round.
Thumbnail Alabama NFL Draft Odds The Alabama Crimson Tide could have a lot of players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft next week. How many...
Thumbnail Odds Theory & Fantasy: Perfect Combo In America alone over 110 million people settled down to watch February’s Super Bowl and were rewarded by a game which saw many twists and turns along the way. Of...
Thumbnail Romo moving to CBS After a lot of discussion about where Tony Romo will be next season, it appears that he will be behind a broadcast booth.

NFL Team Pages