It’s an understatement to say that the injury bug has stung this franchise. From J.J. Watt to Dylan Cole, this season has demonstrated the negatives of playing a full contact, violent sport.
Compared to the original roster heading into the season, the current one has significantly changed. There’s less speed, experience, and talent. This has cursed the Texans with just four wins in thirteen games.
Here’s how the current depth chart breaks down heading into Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.
Quarterback (2): Starter: T.J. Yates. Backup: Tom Savage.
Injured: Deshaun Watson
Savage’s injury and concussion last week was a top-tier, graphic display of the issues in this sport. The mere fact that the doctors on the sideline did not shut him down for the game immediately is an insult to everything the NFL has preached the last give years. Prodigal son Yates has returned and will strike down the Jags like he does the Bengals.
Running Back (5): Starter: Lamar Miller, Jay Prosch. Backups: Alfred Blue, Andre Ellington, Jordan Todman.
Injured: D’Onta Foreman, Tyler Erving, Deante Gray.
Losing Erving early was tough for his career trajectory; I think he has great talent but the Texans may not keep him around next season with his injury history. Foreman is on the path to be the next good RB for the Texans, but coming back from an Achilles tear is tremendously difficult. Miller has been a steady ball carrier even if he lacks the vision to make three yard runs turn into seven or more.
Wide Receiver (6): Starters: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller V. Backups: Braxton Miller, Chris Thompson, DeAndrew White, Cobi Hamilton.
Injured: Bruce Ellington, Wendall Williams.
I was astonished that we let go of Jaelen Strong; I thought he still had a lot to offer. Fuller has been in and out with injuries, but Ellington was a spark who should be an asset in the future. Hopkins has solidified himself as one of the best WRs in the league.
Tight End (2): Starter: Stephen Anderson. Backups: MyCole Pruitt.
Injured: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin.
After last season, the TE role became more of a part of the offense than ever before. The combo of CJF, Griffin, and Anderson was a solid set of triplets that surprised the team with their productivity.
Offensive Tackle (3): Starters: Juli’en Davenport or Jeff Allen, Breno Giacomini. Backups: Kendall Lamm.
Injured: Chris Clark
This group gives me a headache. In the most important moments of the game, the tackles flat out get beaten. Davenport struggles with the speed and complex blitz packages in the NFL. I thought watching Allen play tackle last week was miserable, though I know others thought he played reasonably well. I just hope they can play well enough to stop getting our players hurt.
Guards (4): Starters: Xavier Su’a-Filo, Jeff Allen or Greg Mancz. Backups: Chad Slade, Kyler Fuller
I cannot tell if XSF is actually playing well or if everyone else around him is just that bad. The entire offensive line needs an overhaul, and having better play on the interior is a good way to start.
Center (2) Starter: Nick Martin. Backup: Greg Mancz.
Martin gets overwhelmed at times but that may be due to the fact that the two guys next to him cannot block a sneeze. I don’t think Martin is playing up to his potential, but hopefully the last couple weeks will be an improvement.
Defensive Ends (4): Starters: Joel Heath, D.J. Reader. Backups: Carlos Watkins, Angelo Blackson.
Injured: J.J. Watt, Christian Covington.
I. Want. J.J. Back. I fear we will never see his greatness again. The whole City of Houston prays for his return. D.J. Reader and Watkins have shown why Clemson can produce defensive linemen better than anyone else. Covington needs to get healthy, come back next season, and keep improving.
NT (2) Starter: Brandon Dunn. Backup: Chunky Clements.
Without Vince Wilfork, the nose tackle position was up for grabs and Dunn has filled the role without much fuss. He gets good playing time, but his stat sheet is not the most impressive. This will be a position of need as we enter free agency this offseason.
Outside Linebacker (4): Starters: Jadeveon Clowney, Ufomba Kamalu. Backups: Gimel President, LaTroy Lewis.
Injured: Whitney Mercilus, Brennan Scarlett, Dayon Pratt.
Clowney is a legit game-wrecker. It’s a shame that he cannot play this well with Mercilus and Watt on the field together. Clowney receives so much attention that I do not know how he still makes plays. Starting SAM LB Ufomba Kamalu is a hybrid LB but needs to develop his containment skills. Gimel President gets overrun when the ball comes his way.
Inside Linebacker (5) Starters: Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham. Backups: Brian Cushing, Dylan Cole, Jelani Jenkins.
Injured: Ben Heeney.
It’s good to see Cushing back on the field, but I think that this is his last season in Houston. Cunningham is progressing faster than expected, and McKinney is an All-Pro candidate. Dylan Cole is a stud who gets injured too much. A nice offseason could help him solidify his role on this team. Heeney came in a few times this season; thankfully his injury is not of too big a cost to the team.
Cornerback (5): Starters: Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson. Backups: Kevin Johnson, Marcus Williams, Treston Decoud
Injured: Denzel Rice
Some of the most disappointing play on the whole team has come from this group. Johnson looks slow and underwhelming. J-Jo is now past being “over the hill,” and K-Jack’s skill set is subpar right now. Marcus Williams give tight ends dreams with his inability to cover them all over the field.
Safeties (5): Starters: Andre Hal, Marcus Gilchrist. Backups: Corey Moore, Eddie Pleasant, Kurtis Drummond,
Injured: Lonnie Ballentine, Malik Smith.
Welp. Ballentine needs to go because it’s been too many season with him on IR. Gilchrist gives other teams the center of the field to frolic in. Hal always seems to be in the right place at the right time; he usually plays to the level of the competition.
I guess I was more critical on the defense that I was the offense, but that’ss because I expected more from them that what they have shown.