During a Sunday appearance on SportsRadio 610 in Houston, Texans running back Steve Slaton declared himself 100 percent recovered from offseason neck surgery.
The operation, described as “cervical fusion,” was designed to repair nerve damage in Slaton’s neck. Texans coach Gary Kubiak believed that the nerve problems may have contributed to Slaton’s frequent fumbling last season.
The former West Virginia Mountaineer fumbled seven times in 11 games (10 starts) after doing so just three times in 16 games (15 starts) as a rookie.
Slaton also revealed that he’s shed 15 pounds, getting down to 200. The new weight is closer to where Slaton played in college and in his first pro season.
From 2008 to 2009, Slaton’s numbers dropped across the board. His yards-per-carry average fell from 4.8 to a sluggish 3.3. He wound up with six fewer rushing touchdowns and 845 fewer rushing yards. In November, Slaton’s fumbles cost him his starting job, with Kubiak implementing a rotation at running back.
While his professed health sounds promising, the Texans’ use of the 58th overall pick on Ben Tate last month indicates that they’re not counting on Slaton to be a feature back any longer.
In all likelihood, Slaton will compete with Tate and 2009 late-season star Arian Foster to be the team’s third-down back. Slaton will have to improve his proficiency in pass protection to win the job.