With the first round of NFL roster cuts only one week away, critical decisions are on the horizon for all 32 clubs. Like every other team, the Texans will actively monitor the waiver wire and evaluate outsiders against current roster players. The annual and unfortunate tradition of NFL hopefuls hearing the statement , "Coach wants to talk to you in his office. Bring your playbook" (well, it's a digital tablet nowadays) is about to begin.
We are halfway through the preseason, but about 75% through the evaluation process. Teams are forced to cut rosters from 90 players to 75 no later than Tuesday, August 30th at 3 p.m. CDT. I don't expect Coach O'Brien and Rick Smith to wait until the late hours before the deadline to make those decisions.
That being said, here are my early projections of where each of the 90 players will land--either as a starter, backup or on the bubble. For the sake of not wasting time, let's briefly look at the obvious:
Quarterback: Brock Osweiler
Running Back: Lamar Miller
Fullback: Jay Prosch
Receivers: DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller
Tight End: C.J. Fiedorowicz
Tackles: Duane Brown and Derek Newton
Guards: Xavier Su'a-Filo and Jeff Allen
Nose Tackle: Vince Wilfork
Outside Linebackers: Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney
Inside Linebackers: Benardrick McKinney and Brian Cushing
Cornerbacks: Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson
Safeties: Quintin Demps and Andre Hal
Now that we have the obvious out of the way, let's look at the backups and those who are in position battles. Here are my current projected backups
Quarterback: Tom Savage
Running Back: Jonathan Grimes, Akeem Hunt, and Alfred Blue (although Blue's grip on a roster spot is slipping, big-time)
Receivers: Jaelen Strong, Braxton Miller, and Cecil Shorts III.
Tight Ends: Ryan Griffin, Anthony Denham, Stephen Anderson
Tackles: Chris Clark and Jeff Adams
Guards: Oday Aboushi
Defensive Ends: Devon Still and Brandon Dunn
Outside Linebackers: John Simon
Cornerbacks: Kevin Johnson, A.J. Bouye, and Charles James II
Now for the dirty work: Here are all of the players who are "on the bubble". They are literally fighting for their right to exist in the organization. I'm breaking these down into two categories: "potential Texans", which means that they still have a shot of making the roster, and "red tag pending" which means that I think that the odds of them making the team are slim to none.
Receivers: Keith Mumphery, Wendall Williams
Running Back: Tyler Ervin
Red Tags Pending:
Quarterback: Brandon Weeden
Wide Receiver: Josh Lenz, Quenton Bundrage, Tevin Jones
Tight End: Eric Tomlinson
Running Back: Kenny Hilliard
Cornerbacks: Terrance Mitchell, Robert Nelson, Duke Thomas
Safety: Corey Moore
Kicker: Ka'imi Fairbairn
The process of player evaluation is extremely difficult. Over the course of the next seven days, the Texans' staff will be forced to review film, notes, and practice observations leading back to OTAs to come up with reasons as to why each of these guys should be cut or retained.
I don't have the the privy of knowing what took place at every one of those events, so these are my cuts based on "the eyeball test" alone. We'll see how this roster looks after the first round of cuts. I will publish a final "projected roster" after the conclusion of the Cowboys vs. Texans preseason finale on September 1st.
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