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2016 Houston Texans Roster Cuts: Starter, Backup, Or On The Bubble?

With two weeks remaining in the 2016 NFL Preseason, Coach Bill O'Brien and General Manager Rick Smith will have some difficult decisions to make as they will be forced to cut the roster from 90 to 75.

Coach Bill O'Brien evaluates players at Texans Training Camp
Coach Bill O'Brien evaluates players at Texans Training Camp
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

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

Center: Nick Martin (although Greg Mancz or Tony Bergstrom will likely start the season due to Martin's injury)

Defensive Ends: J.J. Watt (if he's not ready when the regular season starts, then Devon Still takes his spot) and Christian Covington

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

Special Teams: Nick NovakShane Lechler, John Weeks and Cecil Shorts (Kick/Punt returner)

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

Inside Linebackers: Reshard Cliett Brian Peters and Akeem Dent

Cornerbacks: Kevin Johnson, A.J. Bouye, and Charles James II

Safeties: Antonio Allen, K.J. Dillon, and Eddie Pleasant

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.

Potential Texans:

Receivers: Keith Mumphery, Wendall Williams

Offensive Line: Karim Barton, Kendall Lamm, Chad Slade

Running Back: Tyler Ervin

Defensive Line: Ra'Zahn Howard, D.J. Reader

Linebackers: Tony Washington Jr.Carlos Thompson, Max Bullough

Safety: Kurtis Drummond, Lonnie Ballentine

Red Tags Pending:

Quarterback: Brandon Weeden

Wide Receiver: Josh Lenz, Quenton Bundrage, Tevin Jones

Offensive Line:  Dalton Freeman, Arturo Uzdavinis, Matt Pierson

Tight End: Eric Tomlinson

Running Back: Kenny Hilliard

Defensive Line: Alex Carrington, Dan PettinatoJeoffrey Pagan

Linebackers: Shakeel Rashad, Brennan Scarlett, Ryan Langford, Eric Lee

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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