Green's Health Key For Texans
Monday, September 1, 2008
HOUSTON: With Chris Brown out for the season on injured reserve, the Houston Texans are in a precarious position at running back.
Starter Ahman Green missed 10 games last season with knee swelling and sat out all but one play this preseason with a groin injury. He's backed up by Chris Taylor and rookie Steve Slaton, a pair with four games of NFL experience between them. Taylor returns after missing all of last season after reconstructive knee surgery.
"I wish that Ahman and Chris Brown had played the whole preseason and been healthy," coach Gary Kubiak said. "That wasn't the case. We lost Chris and there's nothing we can do about it. We've got to move forward with the three guys we have."
Slaton is speedy and looked promising in preseason, but it's unlikely the smallish rookie could handle the full load if Green is unable to stay healthy. Taylor is being pulled in several different directions, splitting time between fullback and tailback as well as playing a major role on special teams.
Taylor said he's ready to contribute wherever he's needed and doesn't feel any added pressure with the loss of Brown.
With Green likely to have limited carries in the opener after sitting out so long, the Texans will find out quickly if the youngsters are ready.
"You get guys in position," Kubiak said. "They've had good camps. They are the ones that deserve to go get the chance to do it. So, we're going to see how they do, but I have a lot of confidence in them."
The Texans signed Green before last season to solve their problems at running back, but his knee problem limited him to 70 carries for 260 yards. Ron Dayne picked up the slack and was Houston's leading rusher with 773 yards. He wasn't re-signed this offseason, leaving Houston with no veterans after Green.
Green has been practicing for two weeks and appears to be healthy, but it's unclear how the 31-year-old will fare in game action after sitting out almost a year. He says he has no concerns about his health entering Sunday's opener at Pittsburgh.
"It's a big anticipation, just like it was in that first preseason game where I only got one play," Green said. "So I'm just really taking it one day at a time. I know soon enough my time will come where I get out there and help my team out."
Green and the rest of Houston's running backs face a tough test early when they face the Steelers, who allowed the third fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL last season.
"Their defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, is a guy that's a genius at what he does," Green said. "When you watch film on their defense, it looks like you're watching organized chaos. Because before the ball is snapped, it looks like they're all lost. Then all of a sudden the ball snaps and they're hitting their gaps hard, fast, so we've got to be ready for that."
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