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Texans RB Slaton reaches 1,000 yards

It's not who most would have guessed during training camp.

Steve Slaton, who was penciled in to be a third-down back, ran for 120 yards on Sunday to surpass the milestone. The rookie has 1,024 yards rushing this season.

When Houston opened camp, no one in the organization envisioned Slaton starting this season. But veteran Chris Brown was put on injured reserve before it started, and Ahman Green has been suffering from various ailments that kept him off the field.

Green started the first game, but Slaton took over the next week while Green nursed a hurt ankle. Green was healthy a couple of weeks later, but coach Gary Kubiak decided to keep Slaton as the starter.

Green has since been put on injured reserve, too, leaving Slaton as Houston's only viable option. He's responded by rushing for the most yards by a Texan since Domanick Williams (formerly Davis) ran for 1,188 yards in 2004.

If someone would have told Kubiak that Slaton would rush for 1,000 yards this season when they drafted him, the coach probably wouldn't have believed it.

"That would have meant he was playing awful quick, so I don't know if I would have said, 'You're right," Kubiak said. "But we knew we were getting a good football player. We knew we were getting a smart player -- a guy that we expected to be a third-down player right away for us and then all of the sudden through the injuries we went with him and he surprised everybody."

Slaton has had two straight 100-yard rushing games and has added 92 yards receiving in the last two weeks.

"I don't see him stopping anytime soon," Kubiak said. "He's continuing to get better and that's very encouraging for our team."

Slaton made his first NFL start in Houston's first game against Tennessee and finished with 18 carries for 116 yards and his first touchdown.

"To go to Tennessee and start that game, I don't think any of us at the time had an idea of exactly how he was going to hold up, how he was going to play," Kubiak said. "Now we go into 12 weeks in a row with him being the starter and holding up. So it's just been a pleasant surprise."

As the Texans prepare for their second meeting with the Titans, Slaton is poised to set several franchise records. He needs one more rushing touchdown to set a Houston rookie record with nine this season. One more 100-yard game would make him the first Texans running back to have five in a season, and he needs just eight yards to set the franchise rookie rushing record.

And though it's unlikely to happen this week, Slaton has his eye on breaking Houston's single-season rushing record.

"That would mean a lot," Slaton said. "Not only me, but for the whole team. They're doing a great job for me."

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