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Skins Should Show Some Love Towards Texans' Steve Slaton

Steve Slaton has had some problems holding onto the football.  He soon may have trouble holding onto the Texans.  Slaton, 24 years old, is entering his third season in the NFL.  He became the topic of some negative conversation last season due to some problems holding onto the football, and his preceived lack of tougness in short yardage situations.  To add to the fray, he also missed 5 games due to a nerve problem in his neck, a problem that required cervical fusion.

Due in large part to the struggles of Slaton last season, the Texans drafted Auburn running back Ben Tate in the second round on the 2010 NFL draft.  Tate, who is viewed as a complete running back due to his powerful running style, excellent speed, and good hands, should unseat Slaton and Arien Foster as the Texans main backfield threat in 2010.

In addition to Foster, the second year pro from Tennessee, the Texans also have Chris Henry, a 230 pound brusier from the University of Arizona.  Henry is seen as more of a short yardage type of back, and should be a threat to carry the ball in the red zone. 

As for Slaton, expectations were high in 2009, and rightfully so.  He was coming off a rookie season where he played in 16 games, totaling 268 rushing attempts with 1282 yards gained, 9 touchdowns, and a gaudy 4.8 ypc.  Add to that 50 receptions for 377 yards and another touchdown, and the Texans thought they had found themselves their running back of the future. 

But the sophomore slump kicked in for Slaton the following season.  In 11 games he totaled only 131 rushing attempts, gaining 437 rushing yards and scored only 3 times.  His 3.3 ypc was one of the lowest in the league, and his 5 fumbles, with 3 lost, were one of the highest.  Still, Slaton managed to catch 44 passes for 417 yards, and 4 touchdowns.  His average of 9.5 yards per catch was excellent, and showed his potential for being a dynamic threat in space. 

The question now turns to what the Texans plan on doing with the healthy Slaton.  He is scheduled to receive $470,000 in 2010, and $550,000 in 2011, with bonuses that could greatly increase those numbers.  But those bonuses are tied directly to his on-field production, and it will be tough to receive any of those bonuses if his playing time is cut into.  He is also scheduled to become a free agent in 2012, and the Texans may want to get a little return on investment.

So while the Redskins have a crowded backfield already, Slaton may be a guy worth keeping an eye on in 2010.  He was coached the last 2 years under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and I'm sure the younger Shanahan can be quite persuasive when it comes to a certain player who he feels could help his offense.  While deals very rarely happen before the trading deadline of week 9, this may be one worth exploring.  Slaton could be revitalized with a fresh start in a new city, and the Texans could surely use some help in their secondary. 

This could turn out to me a match made in Shanahan heaven.