HOUSTON -- Ahman Green is finally healthy, but he hasn't returned to the role he once had.
How do they measure up?
Steve Slaton's emergence combined with Ahman Green's return from injury has given the Texans a powerful one-two punch in the backfield:
Green was signed before last season to shore up Houston's running game and sat out 10 games with knee problems. He started Houston's opener this season before a sprained ankle kept him out of the next two games and gave Slaton time to nab the starting gig.
Slaton started last week and had 16 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Green had 12 carries for 47 yards.
"It doesn't bother me," Green said of the switch. "It actually excites me because it keeps the defense honest and you've got two different runners interchanging throughout the game. So somebody is always fresh every third or fourth play, which is a good thing when you're playing against an aggressive defense."
Maybe Green is unfazed by the move because he's relieved simply to be back on the field after his recent struggles.
"I don't take anything for granted anymore," Green said. "I was just happy I played and was able to be productive. That was the number one thing."
Green said Slaton's success in his absence helped him because he didn't feel like he had to rush back after his ankle injury. Slaton, a third-round pick out of West Virginia, ran for 116 yards in the Texans' first game without Green and had 83 yards receiving and 33 yards rushing two weeks ago.
"It was less added pressure there when I could just kind of take my time and physically get better with my body," Green said.
Slaton, who is nine years younger than Green, said he watched Green play for the Packers while growing up. It feels a bit odd to be starting over him now, but Slaton tries not to think about it.
"It's a crazy game and I try to take as much information as I can from him because he's been in this league for a long time," Slaton said. "He's teaching me a lot of things."
When Green wasn't playing he'd often take Slaton aside and give him pointers or show him things he could do to improve. Green has been impressed with Slaton's running and his knowledge of the offense.
"The part he's still working on is picking up blitzes, reading the defense and knowing when ... they're going to blitz on the run play what you've got to do for that," Green said. "So, that's the only part he's still getting better at. But the run game, he's picked it up just like I thought."
Coach Gary Kubiak is excited about the possibilities for the offense if Green can stay off the injury report and the pair continues to produce.
"When it's all said and done if these two guys can stay healthy it could be a heck of a tandem as we move forward," Kubiak said. "We'll just keep our fingers crossed."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press