Houston Texans: The Road To The 53-Man Roster

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Aug 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage (3) passes late in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Texans defeated the Broncos 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As the Texans go into the 4th and final preseason game on Thursday night against the 49ers, a number of final cuts are still to be made to get to the 53-man roster. With a new staff it’s slightly harder to predict how many they will keep in each position group but we’ll take a look at the positional numbers the Texans will be looking at and who is on the bubble coming into Thursday’s game.

Players that are cut to get down to the 53-man roster, must clear waivers (not be claimed by another team seeking to put them on their 53-man roster) before they can be signed to the practice squad. And it’s still a player’s decision whether to stay with Texans Practice Squad or try another team if the opportunity is available. This year the NFL has increased the practice squad from 8 to 10.

The Texans also have first claim rights on players placed on waivers from other teams due to last year’s record.

 

Quarterbacks: (3)

Some NFL teams have been known to keep 2 quarterbacks and perhaps 1 on the practice squad. However, when 1 of those quarterbacks is a 4th round rookie like Tom Savage things are a little different. Outside of the Texans trading for another veteran QB, I believe they will keep 3 for now. Savage would never clear waivers without getting claimed and it’s doubtful that the Texans want to go into the season with Savage as the only option behind Ryan Fitzpatrick at this point in his development.

Keep – R. Fitzpatrick, C. Keenum & T. Savage

 

Running Backs: (4-5)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arian Foster is the starter of course. Rookie Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes have solidified the backup roles and have played well. Rookie Jay Prosch also looks like a lock to be the fullback.

The main question here is: do the Texans keep 4 or 5 at this position? Normally this is an easy answer of 3 running backs and 1 fullback, but veteran Ronnie Brown has shown that he still has something in the tank and can do a lot of things including blocking and special teams. Couple this with the fact that Blue and Grimes play special teams, gives Brown a chance at making the final roster because that in effect buys them an extra roster spot, normally taken by another position.

Keep – A. Foster, J. Grimes, A. Blue, J. Prosch

On the Bubble – R. Brown

 

Tight Ends: (3-4)

Gary Kubiak’s Texans normally only kept 3 tight ends. The Texans have a clear top 3 in Garrett Graham, Ryan Griffin and Rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz who appear to be locks. Graham will be used as an H-back, in motion, in the slot and moved around quite a bit. Fiedoriwicz is the inline blocking tight end that Bill O’Brien coveted in the draft and he will play a lot in 2 tight end sets. Fiedorowicz has also shown the hands to suggest he can develop into much more than that. Griffin can do a little or both but is more of a pass catching TE.

The question remains for TE Anthony Dedman who plays special teams and had an outstanding play against the Falcons where he blocked a punt and then peeled back to lay down a big block to allow Grimes to score off the deflection. It will come down to a question of special teams for him and likely ties into the decision of 4 or 5 running backs and the value to special teams.

Keep – G. Graham, C.J. Fiedorowicz, R. Griffin

On the bubble – A. Dedman

 

Wide Receivers: (5)

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

As much as Bill O’Brien likes to use multiple tight ends and use his runningbacks in the passing game, it’s hard to picture the Texans keeping more than 5 wide receivers, although some young receivers have shown well and should make the practice squad. There aren’t many decisions really to be made here. Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins are the starters. DeVier Posey should back them up on the outside. Keshawn Martin who came into camp as a potential veteran cut has played well in the slot and O’Brien has openly sang his praises. Mike Thomas, the veteran receiver, has also looked good in camp in the slot and should make the team. Both Martin and Thomas are still battling for the punt and kickoff return duties as well.

Keep – A. Johnson, D. Hopkins, D. Posey, K. Martin, M. Thomas

On the Bubble – none, although Travis Labhart is likely next in line

 

Offensive Line: (8-9)

The normal number of roster spots on the O-line is usually 9. However, as we have pointed out here at House of Houston in the preseason game report cards, there is not much depth in this group and the Texans will likely be shopping the waiver wire for depth.

Duane Brown, Derek Newton and Tyson Clabo are likely the tackles. Chris Myers is of course the starting center and Brandon Brooks is locked in at right guard now that he is back healthy. Ben Jones and Xavier Su’a-Filo continue to compete at left guard but everyone expects Su’a-Filo to ultimately take over and Jones to be the interior backup that can play guard or center. The rest is a bit of a mystery, but I would not be surprised to see the Texans only keep 8 on the 53-man given the increase in spots on the practice squad which will create a little more roster flexibility and room for development.

Keep – D. Brown, D. Newton, T. Clabo, C. Myers, B. Brooks, X. Su’a-Filo, B. Jones

On the bubble – A. Kupper, M. Feiler

 

Click Next to see the defensive battles and bubble players.

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