Houston running back Steve Slaton, the Conwell-Egan graduate who starred at West Virginia, is out for the season because of a nerve problem in his neck.

Slaton, who ran for 1,282 yards last season, learned that the injury was more serious than initially believed after he saw a specialist Tuesday. He ran for 437 yards this season.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak said yesterday that the specialist believes the problem will heal on its own in four to six weeks, but surgery could be an option.

The Texans will rely on Chris Brown and former Eagle Ryan Moats.

Cowboys. Dallas left tackle Flozell Adams was fined $50,000 for shoving New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck in the back Sunday.

League spokesman Randall Liu said the fine was for unnecessary roughness, Adams' fifth such infraction this season.

Adams already has been docked $25,000 for incidents in three other games.

Patriots. Wide receiver Randy Moss and three teammates were sent home by New England coach Bill Belichick after showing up late for an 8 a.m. team meeting.

Belichick declined to comment on their absence. The others were linebackers Adalius Thomas, Gary Guyton, and Derrick Burgess.

Quarterback Tom Brady was not spotted during the media availability period, but his wife, Gisele Bundchen, gave birth to a boy Tuesday.

Raiders. Randy Hanson, who accused Oakland head coach Tom Cable of assault after a training-camp scuffle, returned to work in the team's personnel department.

Hanson had been an assistant defensive-backs coach before the Aug. 5 incident.

Cable denied any wrongdoing, and Napa County District Atytorney Gary Lieberstein did not pursue charges.

Elsewhere. Defensive tackle Shaun Smith joined Cincinnati two days after run-stopping lineman Domata Peko had surgery on his right knee that will sideline him for several weeks. . . . Safety Oshiomogho "O.J." Atogwe, St. Louis' second-leading tackler, was placed on injured reserve because of a dislocated shoulder. The Rams signed safety Clinton Hart, a former Eagle, and released linebacker Dominic Douglas. . . . Denver right tackle Ryan Harris was placed on injured reserve because of an injury to his right big toe. Tackle Herb Taylor was signed. . . . Indianapolis quarterback Jim Sorgi (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve, leaving Curtis Painter, a rookie from Purdue, as the only backup to Peyton Manning. . . . Wide receiver Hines Ward (hamstring) is questionable for Pittsburgh's game at Cleveland tonight. . . . Jets coach Rex Ryan said Mark Sanchez will not play at Tampa Bay because of the sprained right knee he suffered Sunday. Kellen Clemens will start.