Following the win over the Jets, TexansDC took a crack at predicting the final 53-man roster based on what we'd seen to that point, both in camp and in the first preseason game. As is always the case with the Texans (and, I assume, most other teams), the lead contenders to fill out the back end of the roster can swing pretty wildly week-to-week. So, with that in mind, I thought I'd offer my own sketch of what the roster will look like on September 11, 2011.
(Players at each position listed roughly in order of where I see them currently on the depth chart.)
QB -- Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart, T.J. Yates. As a matter of personal philosophy, I am loath to carry a third QB. Gary Kubiak, however, seems to think that a third QB is as necessary to his roster as a third quark is to a baryon. All three of these guys are going to be on the roster come Week 1, and we're more or less hosed if anyone other than Schaub sees an appreciable number of snaps in 2011.
RB -- Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Derrick Ward. You saw three things vis-a-vis running backs on Saturday night. First, there was visible evidence that Arian Foster continues to have amazing field vision and is primed for another great season. Second, Ben Tate rushed right past Derrick Ward and established himself as the second-best back on the team. Third, Chris Ogbonnaya saw his bandwagon driven by Toonces, with predictable results. I think we carry three RBs, and, if so, I don't see any way Steve Slaton or Ogbonnaya gets on the team.
FB -- James Casey, Lawrence Vickers. My love of the James Casey Experience is already documented. I'm also a huge fan of what I've seen from Vickers. No way either of these guys gets cut.
WR -- Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, Dorin Dickerson, Jeff Maehl. I know that Devard Darling looked decent Saturday night but (a) he doesn't have anywhere near the upside that Lestar Jean does and (b) I don't even think Jean will make the team over Jeff Maehl, who I feel is a much better fit (i.e., brings a slightly different skill-set to the WR corps and increases the WRs' grittiness factor by an order of magnitude). Hopefully, Terrence Toliver and Lestar Jean can sneak through to the practice squad.
TE -- Owen Daniels, Joel Dreessen, Garrett Graham. I'm not gonna lie: between these three and Casey in the H-back role, I have visions of three-TE sets dancing in my head. That they are dancing with nude, redheaded chicks is not germane to the conversation. But they are.
OT -- Duane Brown, Eric Winston, Rashad Butler. This trio seems like a foregone conclusion, and I'm fine with that. Also, if you aren't following Butler on Twitter (@RB2Cool), you are missing out. A few days ago, the man actually asked someone named @Lillybelle561 "do u want to die?" after she called him ignorant. Whether he was joking or not, I like his hustle there. (Author's note: BRB does not condone violence, unless it is being meted out by Andre Johnson against petulant leprechauns.)
OG --Wade Smith, Mike Brisiel, Shelley Smith, Antoine Caldwell. With the
merciful euthanization injury to Kasey Studdard, Shelley Smith will almost certainly make this team. At this point, I'm torn between making a tetragrammaton joke or a "four noble truths" joke, so I am just going to move on.
C -- Chris Myers. As long as he's not facing Casey Hampton or Kris Jenkins, Chris Myers has been very good over the last few seasons. I suppose that, should he get injured, Caldwell would be the backup here.
NT -- Shaun Cody, Earl Mitchell. There are a lot of physical constants in our universe: the gravitational constant G, Planck's constant h, the electric constant ε0, and the fact that Shaun Cody is terrible are but a few. These are immutable; just as no amount of wishing by scientists could change the fact that the attractive force (F) between two bodies is proportional to the product of their masses (m1 and m2), and inversely proportional to the square of the distance (r) between them, no amount of hope from the coaching staff can change the Cody Suck Constant (expressed in symbol form as baby Jesus crying). Still, Cody makes the team over Scooter Berry. Sigh.
DE -- J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, Tim Jamison, Tim Bulman, Damione Lewis. The first four seem like locks at this point. As for Lewis, it is my fondest hope that he makes the team as the fifth DE, and then he gets some snaps at NT as well once the coaching staff comes to terms with Cody's non-factor-ness. I actually think Lewis can play the one-gap NT role, but being able to play that role does not currently seem to be a prerequisite for seeing the field in that capacity.
OLB -- Mario Williams, Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, Jesse Nading, Bryan Braman. If the Texans decide to go with an extra WR or S, then Braman would likely be the odd man out here. There's no way he sneaks through waivers and gets on the practice squad, however, so I'm assuming that they will keep him on the active roster. I have no problem with that, as Berserker is nothing if not fun to watch and make Clerks jokes about. I just wish there was some way he could wear #37.
ILB -- DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing, Darryl Sharpton, Xavier Adibi, Tim Dobbins. With question marks hovering about the first two guys on this list, ILB seems like a position where an extra body will make the team just in case. I went with Dobbins over Standford Keglar simply because Keglar is no great shakes on special teams, Dobbins has played the ILB and OLB roles so far in the preseason (and looks good in run defense), and Wade knows Dobbins from their San Diego days together.
CB -- Johnathan Joseph, Jason Allen, Brandon Harris, Kareem Jackson, Sherrick McManis, Brice McCain. Six CBs? Well, sorta. I think McManis works his way into the safety dance (no word on whether that requires him to be sans chapeau). Roc Carmichael is probably going to be an IR stash. Antwaun Molden will be set free; if he loves us, he won't return.
S -- Danieal Manning, Glover Quin, Troy Nolan. Shiloh Keo can't tackle, can't return kicks or punts, and can't really cover. Between his shortcomings, the fact that I think the Texans carry an extra ILB as insurance, and the theory that McManis can possibly play safety, I think Keo is the odd man out. Being unable to beat out Troy Nolan does not exactly bode well for your NFL future, either. (All of the above applies to Dominique Barber as well.)
ST -- Neil Rackers, Brett Hartmann, Jon Weeks. If I am philosophically opposed to carry three QBs, I am outright militant about not wasting a roster space on a long-snapper. But, then, my vote doesn't matter here, so Weeks makes the team. I think Hartmann makes team based primarily on his kickoff power, but I hope Kubiak finds a way to use his arm at least once as well.
So, there you have it. In the comments, let's hear your thoughts, observations, complaints, and all requests that I come perform magic tricks at your next birthday party. (Full disclosure: I don't know any magic tricks, and I am very likely only showing up to drink free beer.)