- Associated Press - Sunday, August 15, 2010

HOUSTON (AP) - Houston Texans rookie running back Ben Tate will need surgery after suffering a severe ankle injury in Saturday’s preseason opener in Arizona.

The 5-foot-11, 211-pound Tate was hurt in the third quarter of the Texans’ 19-16 loss to the Cardinals. Tate, the Texans’ second-round draft pick out of Auburn, had only two carries for 7 yards before he was carted off the field.

Coach Gary Kubiak said Sunday that the injury is “pretty severe,” and that Tate will likely have surgery on Tuesday or Wednesday.

“It doesn’t look good,” Kubiak said. “That’s the best I can describe it for now.”

Houston plays its second preseason game in New Orleans on Saturday.

Tate’s injury drops him out of a crowded competition at running back. Arian Foster started Saturday’s game, and had four rushes for 31 yards.

Steve Slaton is Foster’s main challenger after his 2009 season was cut short by a neck injury. He ran 10 times for 22 yards in Arizona, but fumbled on the goal line. Slaton had seven fumbles last season.

“It’s tough, because that’s what held us back and him back last year,” Kubiak said. “To have it happen in the first preseason game, it’s obviously disappointing. If it’s going to happen, I’m sure glad it happened there, and not three weeks from now. But it’s something that’s got to get corrected for us to be successful.”

Chris Henry, also in the mix for the running back job, had two carries for 6 yards and caught a pass for a 14-yard gain. Kubiak said Henry will move up the depth chart with Tate injured. Henry is also playing special teams.

“We’re trying to get him a little more settled, but he’s very aggressive,” Kubiak said. “He showed up for (special teams coach) Joe (Marciano) and he will get more time at the back position, as we move forward with Tate being out. So we’ll see, he did some good things.”

Kubiak closely watched backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who completed 12 of 21 passes for 129 yards in two quarters.

The Texans signed Orlovsky as a free agent in March 2009. He was inactive for all 16 games last season, but has moved into the backup role behind Matt Schaub.

Kubiak liked what he saw from Orlovsky in Arizona.

“He was steady,” Kubiak said. “Since he’s been here with me, I thought it was his best outing in the preseason. He protected the ball, he moved his group, he had two big, long drives.

“He could still play better, and I think he will,” Kubiak said. “It’s important that Dan continues to show this team that he’s taking steps forward and he took one last night.”

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