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Friday, March 27, 2009
Big back possibilities for the Texans

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

The Texans added Antonio Smith, Dan Orlovsky and Shaun Cody in free agency.

And they are about done.

"Other than depth, I don't see anything else happening in free agency," coach Gary Kubiak told reporters over breakfast at the owners' meeting this week. "Obviously, finding a complement to Steve [Slaton] is important. We went the Cedric Benson route [in free agency] and it didn't work out. It's a little nerve wracking, but you can't force something. At least we know we have a good, young one in Slaton. Hopefully, something good will happen there, but, obviously, we have to improve there."

A bigger back should help the Texans in the red zone -- where they ranked 26th in the league in TD production -- and in short-yardage situations, where they need to convert better in crucial spots and would like to limit the pounding on Slaton.

The 5-foot-9 Slaton was listed at 203 last season.

"Obviously, a bigger, more physical guy from a short-yardage and red zone standpoint would make sense," Kubiak said. "But at the same time, I expect Steve to continue to step forward and get better. He ran hard, broke tackles and moved the pile. But, ideally, we'd still like to have a larger back."

Kubiak said in a perfect world, the lead back would get 22 touches, the second guy about 10 or 12.

Where to find the second guy?

"Well, you don't know that until you evaluate the draft and set your board and see how many good ones you have rated to go in what round," Kubiak said. "Then you try to figure out who ahead of you wants one, too. If there are eight backs you really like, then you know you'll probably have to go in the first three rounds to get one. If there are 15, then you might be able to wait until the fourth or fifth rounds."

But to find a guy that fits the "big back" role -- assuming they aren't taking Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells (6-1, 235) at No. 15 -- the Texans may need to spend their second rounder -- No. 46.

Here are the top candidates who fit the bill: