The Texans drafted Slaton in the third round of April's NFL Draft to be more of a third-down back behind veterans Ahman Green and Chris Brown. When injuries opened the door for Slaton's first start in Week 3, the rookie responded with 116 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He's started every game since, while averaging five yards per carry.
Twelve weeks later, Slaton, Johnson and Forte have all eclipsed 1,000 yards -- tying an NFL record for the most rookies to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
"It means a lot," said Slaton of his 1,000-yard milestone. "I know it means a lot to my linemen. That's what we've been talking about this whole year. We were getting closer and closer to 1,000. To me, just to come in and not be expected to have a season like this is very big."
At a point in the season when most rookie running backs are hitting the proverbial "rookie wall," Slaton has put together his most impressive performances of the season. Since Week 11, Slaton has put together three 100-yard performances, including 160 total yards in Houston's 24-21 win over Green Bay last Sunday. Since Week 11, Slaton has posted 571 total yards, the most for any running back in that time.
"I think it's really impressive what he's doing," Texans right tackle Eric Winston said. "If you're around football right now, you know rookies are supposed to start going the other way. Especially guys forced to start from the beginning of the season -- they aren't supposed to be doing this in Week 10 or Week 11. He's really showing up and putting games away."
Which is exactly what Slaton did against division rival Jacksonville in Week 13, capping off a 182-yard performance with rushing touchdowns on consecutive fourth-quarter drives to seal Houston's 30-17 victory on Monday Night Football.
Slaton mirrors Portis in other ways as well. Through 14 weeks, Slaton is one of just eight running backs, including Portis, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Forte and Johnson with over 200 carries and over 1,000 rushing yards.
"I kind of put that at the end and hopefully at the end of the year I'll get there," said Slaton of the Pro Bowl. "That would be an honor. Not a lot of people as rookies in their first year get to go to the Pro Bowl. A lot of people don't get to go throughout their whole careers. That would definitely be a positive."
At 6-7, the Texans have been eliminated from playoff contention, yet Slaton still has plenty to play for. With three games remaining, he is 157 yards shy of Houston's single-season rushing record, currently held by Domanick Williams (1,188).
"It would mean a lot, said Slaton of establishing the Texans franchise record. "This franchise being so young, to come in and establish a name for myself, when I'm not really supposed to be doing it…It would definitely be a big thing."