This is a follow-on to an earlier article “Houston Texans roster checkup, training camp edition” which was last updated on August 14.
This entry incorporates the Texans roster moves on August 29 when they reduced to 80 players. The Texans will have to cut 27 players by Saturday to get down to the league mandated 53 man roster. I expect that players will be notified on Friday, the day after the Texans final pre-season game at Minnesota.
The Texans can re-sign as many as eight players to the practice squad if they are eligible and clear 24-hour waivers.
Players eligible for the practice squad are those who: a) do not have an accrued season of NFL experience, b) free agent players who were on an active list for fewer then nine games during their only accrued season, and c) players who have spent no more than two years on the practice squad with the team.
To earn an accrued season, a player must have been on full pay status for six or more regular season games during a season.
In the summary below, you will see two numbers in parenthesis following the position names. The number on the left is the current number of players on the roster at that position. The number on the right is the number of players the Texans offense and Cowboys defense took into Week 1 of the 2010 season at that position. I thought it made sense to compare the current Texans defensive staffing to what Wade Phillips took into Week 1 last year at Dallas.
Returning players from last season are shown in plain text and new players are shown in bold.
While the number on the right isn’t absolute in terms of the number of players the Texans will keep at that position, it’s a fair enough guide.
Wide Receiver (9, 5): Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, Dorin Dickerson, Trindon Holliday, Derrick Townsel, Jeff Maehl, Terrence Toliver, Bryant Johnson
The only three slots set for sure are Andre, Walter and Jacoby. I’m guessing that Dickerson and Johnson capture the two remaining two slots. Both will be expected to play special teams. Toliver and Maehl are practice squad candidates. Townsel should still have practice squad eligibility. Holliday is the longest of long shots.
Offensive Line (13, 9): Duane Brown, Chris Myers, Mike Brisiel, Eric Winston, Rashad Butler, Antoine Caldwell, Wade Smith, Cole Pemberton, Cody Wallace, Derek Newton, Peter Hendrickson, Howard Barbieri, Andrew Gardner
The Texans lost some interior depth with the loss of Smith and Studdard. That likely opened the door for Cody Wallace to make the team. Newton, Pemberton and Barbieri all got a lot of reps in the first three preseason games and are all practice squad candidates. I’m thinking Newton has a leg up on Pemberton in terms of developmental tackle.
Tight End (4, 4): Owen Daniels, Joel Dreessen, Anthony Hill, Garrett Graham
The only question here is whether Anthony Hill makes the 53. I’m guessing not.
Quarterback (3, 3): Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart, T.J. Yates
The fate of every Texans’ season rides on the health of Matt Schaub although Leinart seems to be a better option at backup than Dan Orlovsky. Yates ran an offense at North Carolina that’s very similar to the Texans’ offense so his learning curve has been a bit shorter then normal, but he still has a long way to go. I’d be surprised if the Texans go into the season with only two QBs on the roster.
Fullback (3, 1): James Casey, Zac Pauga, Lawrence VIckers
For what Casey gives up as a lead blocker he gives back with versatility. In preseason he was constantly motioning in and out of WR sets from the backfield which creates mismatch issues when defenses try to cover him with a linebacker. If the Texans keep ‘only’ three TEs on their 53-man, it gives them the space to keep Vickers. Casey is a slash TE/FB anyway. Pauga is a good practice squad candidate.
Running Back (6, 3): Arian Foster, Derrick Ward, Ben Tate, Steve Slaton, Chris Ogbonnaya, Javarris Williams
It could be Slaton’s last hurrah with the Texans Thursday night at Minnesota. Slaton is in the final year of his contract and is scheduled to make about $1.2 million. Ogbonnaya is a cheaper alternative for a cap-strapped team if the Texans elect to keep four RBs on the roster as a hedge against Foster’s recurring hamstring issues and Tate’s unknowns. Williams was signed as depth to help get the team through the preseason.
Defensive Line (10, 7): Antonio Smith, Shaun Cody, Earl Mitchell, J.J. Watt, Damione Lewis, Tim Bulman, Tim Jamison, John Graves, Guy Miller, Scooter Berry
I think the names in bold are cut and the rest make the 53.
Linebacker (14, 10): DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing, Mario Williams, Connor Barwin, Xavier Adibi, Darryl Sharpton, Brooks Reed, Jesse Nading, Stanford Keglar, Cheta Ozougwu, Steven Friday, Bryan Braman, Mister Alexander, Tim Dobbins
The debate here is if the Texans keep 9 linebackers, will the ninth linebacker be Dobbins because of his veteran presence inside and insurance behind DeMeco and an injury prone Adibi, or Braman for flashing as a pass rusher in the Jets and Saints preseason games and for his special teams skills? Cheta is a good practice squad candidate.
Defensive Back (14, 8): Glover Quin, Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Danieal Manning, Jason Allen, Troy Nolan, Brandon Harris, Brice McCain, Dominique Barber, Sherrick McManis, Torri Williams, Quintin Demps, Shiloh Keo, Roc Carmichael
As I wrote last night, here’s where the most interesting cuts will be. Assuming the Texans keep 9 DBs, it looks like a choice between McCain and McManis for the 5th corner, and a choice between Barber and Keo for the 4th safety. Special teams contributions mean everything when you get to competition for these final few precious roster spots. If Keo doesn’t make it, he and Carmichael are definite practice squad candidates. Nolan has solidified a spot as the third safety.
Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper (4, 3): Neil Rackers, Jonathan Weeks, Brad Maynard, Scott Albritton
The only question here is whether the Texans keep Albritton or Weeks as long snapper. Weeks, the Texans long snapper last season, hasn’t played in weeks because of a sprained ankle.