For the Houston Texans, the Steve Slaton experiment has finally run its course. Late Tuesday evening, the Texans decided to release their star 2008 third-round pick, opting to have faith in the combination of Arian Foster and Ben Tate instead.
At 5'9" and 209 pounds, Slaton may not fit the mold of a prototypical NFL running back, but there is no arguing with success. As a rookie, Slaton rushed for 1,282 yards before spending 11 games of the 2009 season on injured reserve. The injury was especially costly for Slaton, as Foster had a breakout season in 2010, while Slaton was designated to backup duties on the depth chart.
Things only got worse for Slaton when Tate was selected in the 2010 NFL draft in the second round. Tate came out of college with high expectations, and the writing seemed to be on the wall for the Texans' former star back.
Instead, Tate broke his ankle and wound up on injured reserve for the season.
Fast forward to 2011, it seemed with an injury to Foster that Slaton would receive countless more opportunities. That thought was quickly discounted, however, as Slaton has only received seven rushes for 20 yards this season.
The majority of snaps have gone to Tate, who has taken 66 attempts for 301 yards, with a 4.6 average and one touchdown on his resumé. The emergence of Tate has made Slaton and his tendency to fumble at inopportune times, essentially expendable.
The departure of Slaton has opened up a roster spot for preseason standout, Chris Ogbonnaya. His size of 6', 220 pounds makes Ogbonnaya more of a threat in goal-line situations, as he proved while he was the Texans' preseason leading rusher.
While in college, the former Longhorn was a star rusher, but fell all the way to the seventh round before being picked up in the 2009 draft by the St. Louis Rams.
With the nagging injuries to Foster and Tate, expect Ogbonnaya to pick up where he left off in the preseason, while the team waits for its star duo to return to a healthier form.