Beginning with 14 organized team activities that start May 18, continuing through the minicamp June 15-17 and into training camp and preseason, it's going to be interesting to see what player wins the backup job.
Shonn Greene (Jets) and Glen Coffee (49ers), backs targeted by the Texans as good value in the third round for what they were looking for, were taken before the Texans chose center Antoine Caldwell with the 77th overall pick.
Right now, there are four candidates to earn the top backup job behind Slaton (5-9, 204), who set a team record with 1,282 yards rushing, averaged 4.8 yards a carry, totaled 1,659 yards from scrimmage and scored 10 touchdowns as a rookie in 2008.
Ideally, the coaches would like a bigger back who fits their one-cut system, a back like Ahman Green (6-0, 218), who was waived, or Cedric Benson (5-11, 220), who was courted by the Texans before re-signing with Cincinnati.
Ryan Moats (5-8, 210) did well playing behind Slaton last season. Chris Brown (6-3, 220) would be ideal because he's familiar with the system but is injured a lot. He spent last season on injured reserve.
"I like both of them," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "If Chris can stay healthy, I feel very good about it (running back situation). He's healthy now, and we're counting on him. I expect a lot out of Chris this year.
"Ryan's very talented. He really came on last season. He's perfect for our system. He could be what we're looking for, also."
--Still reeling from the footage they saw of the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys' practice bubble, the Texans are doing what they can to ensure the safety of their own players and employees as they prepare to begin organized team activities this month.
The Texans' practice bubble is considerably different than the one the Cowboys have used since 2003. Constructed by Yeadon, a company based in Canada, the Texans' bubble is an air-supported structure.
"First and foremost, we don't have the steel frame," said Lloyd Richards, director of football operations. "There is no framing inside that keeps it up. (The Cowboys) have a skeleton with tent material over it. Ours is truly a balloon, supported by air pressure only. If something came down it would be only material. Structurally that's the biggest difference."
The Texans use their bubble a number of times each season, mostly to escape heat or rain on their outdoor practice fields. They also have their safety policies in place, and general manager Rick Smith said they will be revisiting all of those policies before practices begin.
"It's a tragic set of circumstances and our thoughts and prayers go out to everybody involved," Smith said. "Our situation is different. Our bubble is structured differently. We have our safety precautions in place, and so we continue to follow those.
"Obviously when something like this happens, it gives you an opportunity to make sure that what you're doing is appropriate. We'll certainly do that; and make sure that our players and staff will all be safe."
--Because they didn't select a back in the draft, the Texans signed two undrafted free agents -- Tennessee's Arian Foster (6-1, 227) and Oregon's Jeremiah Johnson (5-9, 209). Both had injuries in college.
"In four years at Oregon, his worst average per carry was 6.1 yards," Shanahan said about Johnson, who averaged 6.7 yards a carry in his career. "After Jonathan Stewart left (for Carolina), as a senior, he averaged 7.1 yards a carry."
Johnson missed most of his junior year after undergoing surgery to repair a torn knee ligament. He returned last season to rush for 1,201 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"He's got good vision," Shanahan said. "He slid in the draft because he's undersized and not very fast, but he's quick."
Foster played with knee, shoulder and ankle injuries at Tennessee. As a junior, he rushed for 1,193 yards and 12 touchdowns.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "What we set out to do on both sides of the ball, we got those things accomplished as far as where we were looking for the impact-type players. One of the things that I'm very pleased with is all these kids that we're looking at here... a lot of good careers. Not a lot of one year-type players. There are guys in here that have had good college careers, very productive careers, and those guys have been the guys that have really panned out for us and played extremely well. So we're expecting this group to come in and lend a hand just the same." -- Coach Gary Kubiak on the draft class.