OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -Steve Slaton had to wait an entire day after Darren McFadden was drafted before he heard his own name called, missing out on all the hype and the riches from being a first-round pick.
When it comes to making an impact in the NFL as a rookie, McFadden has been the one who has had to wait, while Slaton has become one of the surprises from the latest draft class.
``Everybody wants to be in the first round,'' said Slaton, who was picked by Houston in the third round. ``So, I was a little disappointed. But I just strived to make up ground and to show the reason why I should have been in the first round.''
Slaton has done just that, leading the Texans (7-7) with 1,124 yards rushing heading into Sunday's game against McFadden and the Oakland Raiders (3-11).
Slaton needs just 64 yards in his final two games to break Domanick Williams' single-season franchise record for rushing in a season.
g that you would get a running back late that would be a real good player,'' receiver Andre Johnson said. ``Sometimes things just turn out that way. We were very fortunate that he came to our team. I watched Steve play a lot when he was in college. I've always been a fan of his and he's helped us out a whole lot.''
McFadden hasn't had nearly the success as a rookie despite being the first running back taken in the draft when Oakland selected him fourth overall. He is seventh among all rookie backs in yards rushing this season, having been slowed by a pair of turf toe injuries that forced him to miss three games.
But even when McFadden has been healthy in recent weeks, the Raiders have struggled to find ways to get their most explosive offensive player the ball. McFadden has taken the lack of work in stride, always smiling when asked about it and never complaining about his use.
``You really want the ball, but at the same time you know the coach is going to make his decisions and you've got to go with it,'' McFadden said. ``With me, it's just like I go out there, work hard and run the ball when I'm called on. I've just got to do what I can.''
McFadden has 100 carries for 451 yards and four touchdowns this season. He has also caught 22 passes for 234 yards, leaving him second on the team in yards from scrimmage.
n beginning with the second half against Kansas City on Nov. 30, McFadden had just four touches.
That included the entire first quarter of last week's 49-26 loss to New England, when McFadden was wearing a jacket on the sideline while the Raiders quickly fell behind 21 points.
``If we weren't going three-and-out, he would have been involved,'' interim coach Tom Cable said, not addressing whether using McFadden would have avoided any of those three-and-outs on the first three drives.
By the time McFadden did enter the game, he ended up with 114 yards from scrimmage, turning some short passes into long gains that took some pressure off quarterback JaMarcus Russell.
Russell said he planned to lobby to get McFadden even more involved this week against the Texans, and Cable has seemed amenable to it.
``That's on coach. He's seen that,'' Russell said. ``A lot of people have probably been talking about it. When the ball is in No. 20's hands, it is fun to watch. I'm pretty sure he might work on getting him some touches early in the game and go from there. Because once he got the ball in his hands last week you saw some turning points in the game.''
ut for the season with injuries.
Slaton has made the most of his opportunity, shifting easily from the spread offense at West Virginia to a more conventional one in the NFL.
``It's been a dream of a first season,'' Slaton said. ``You set your goals as high as you can, but the way everything panned out this year for me is truly a blessing.''
Slaton's success has been a big part of Houston's turnaround this season. After starting the year 0-4, the Texans have a chance to finish with a winning record for the first time in franchise history if they beat Oakland and then win the season finale at home against Chicago.
``To get a kid like that in the third round that has carried the load like he has and look toward the future at what type of player he can become, it's panning out as one heck of a draft,'' Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. ``If you're going to get a young organization going, you can't miss on those players, and fortunately we've been pretty darn good in the draft.''
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.

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