For the most part, the Houston Texans' roster is set for the coming season, with only a few position battles and roster spots up for grabs. In the team's last preseason game on thursday, not many of this season's starters will see much action. What we'll see instead are a large collection of role players and fringe NFL players desperately trying to prove their worth to the team. In many ways, this makes the last preseason game the most watchable as it's full of guys quite literally playing for their careers.
So who should we keep an eye on during the game?
John-David Booty, QB Booty's only chance of making the regular season roster is if the coaches are still concerned about Schaub's ability to play the entire regular season. I believe Kubiak would rather carry 2 QBs and save a roster spot for a guy who can at least help the team out on special teams rather than hold a clipboard on the sidelines all year. But even then, they're not going to give a roster spot away just to have a warm body at QB, for Booty to even have a shot he has to show in this game that he has a firm grasp on the offense and can step in and lead the team in an emergency type situation.
Chris Henry, RB I actually think Henry has a better chance of making the team than many others, but not so much from his performance so far this preseason. Foster is the team's starter, Slaton has been inconsistent and it's still uncertain how he'll come back after his injury last season, and Johnson shows flashes but has also been very inconsistent. At a position as clouded by uncertainty as our backfield is, I think it's possible that the team decides to carry 4 RBs to hedge their bets a little. As a player, Henry is a bit of a wildcard himself. He has all the physical tools to be a dominating runner but poor field vision and football IQ lowers his on-field production immensly. If he ever has an "awakening" as a football player he could be a monster... but at this point you have to think that if it hasn't happened yet there's a good chance it never will.
Jack Corcoran, FB Corcoran has almost no chance to make the team's 53 man roster, but with a strong showing could possibly play his way onto the scout team which in turn would make a real competition between Corcoran and Leach next season more of a possibility. He has all the tools to be a very productive FB in our system, and has better hands out of the backfield than Leach ever will, he just needs time to learn the insides and outs of the system and a year on the scout team would help him with that.
James Casey and Garrett Graham, TE Both are pretty much sure to make the final roster but that #3 position is probably still up for grabs and with Daniels being limited at least early and the Texans employing 2 TE sets at times, the #3 TE could see significant action... Right now i'd say Casey has a fairly comfortable lead but i'd imagine both are aware of the other and will be doing everything they can to get ahead/stay ahead of the other guy.
Shelley Smith, G More than likely Smith gets picked up to run with the scout team this year. He's athletic and is the type of lineman that fits in well with the zone blocking scheme, but he's just not far enough along yet and there's too many quality guys ahead of him for Smith to have a real shot of making the final roster. And to be honest I can't say that i've even noticed him on the field so far.. but for an offensive lineman that could be a very good thing so who knows.
Tim Bulman, Frank Okam, and Malcom Sheppard, DT Two of these three will probably be on the 53 man roster with the other either cut or placed on scout team. My money is on Sheppard being cut and placed on scout team in one of the team's last moves to trim the roster.
Xavier Adibi and Darryl Sharpton, LB These guys are basically fighting for a 4 game job as a starter on this defense. I don't think Sharpton is near ready for such a role and Adibi is helter skelter at best... which is probably why i've heard Kevin Bentley's name thrown around recent too... Any way you look at it, this is a big game for those 3 LBs so i'd expect them all to be going full throttle trying to make plays, as such probably the guy who keeps his head the most and makes the fewer mistakes in the game might have the leg up in the competition.
Brice McCain, Jaques Reeves, and Antuan Molden, CB These three corners are fighting over the nickle and dime corner positions. Honestly I think McCain is the lead dog now, i'd even have him in the starting lineup and bring Quinn in as the "Nickle" back if it were me.
Sherrick McMannis and Mark Parson, CB There's a good chance the Texans will carry 6 CBs into the season but it's unlikely that they keep 7, so that leaves one of these two corners being cut unless Reeves is a surprise cut as some have guessed.
Kris Brown and Neil Rackers, K I included this mostly because I knew if I didn't it would be brought up. Yes the competition is still ongoing, but I don't think this game is going to be a big part of the final decision unless one or the other really, and I mean really stinks it up while the other shines.
Those are the guys i'll be watching closely on Thursday night to see how they fare, what players are you interested in seeing in extended action?