After a two week hiatus and one preseason game, there have been some big changes to Texans’ Rosterology. In a Thursday night preseason football game, the Texans controlled the Chiefs for a 17-10 win. It was great to see Deshaun Watson on the field in his return from a season-ending ACL injury last November. I wish we could have seen Whitney Mercilus, D.J. Reader, J.J. Watt, Tyrann Mathieu, among others, play for at least a series, but I’m glad health is a primary concern. As a result, players vying for a roster spot get an additional series or two in preseason game.
A couple notes before we jump on in. First, Corey Moore’s play, along with the lack of any competing safeties, puts him close to a lock for a roster spot in my view. He was a surveyor of the field on Thursday night, and his knowledge of the defense make him a vital part of the unit moving forward. I’m also starting to wonder if Jay Prosch will be a part of this offense. Having him on the roster for short yard situations is understandable, but how often will he be used? I also thought Treston Decoud was in a relatively safe position, but seeing him as a third string safety with not much special teams prowess, I no longer think he is a part of the ‘First Four Out’; he is probably part of a ‘Next Four Out’ group that isn’t published.
With that said, here we go.
Safe, But In Position Battles
Congrats, Braxton. You have begun to prove many doubters wrong. Although his skill set is starting to mirror Bruce Ellington’s in terms of route tree and play making, Miller looks faster and is better at running routes than he ever has during his three year career. He’s finally healthy and had his first consistent performance in a football game. Yes, it was preseason, but the team showed more confidence putting him as the split end receiver. He needs to stay healthy and keep getting open over the middle; if he does those two things, Miller will join Corey Moore and not be featured in this article in the weeks to come, as his spot should be locked up.
Joe Webb III
After a game like that, how can you not want that type of athleticism on your roster?
An unbelievable play by the third string QB puts him in a safe position heading into the second preseason game. Being able to participate on special teams as well as mimicking Deshaun Watson’s offensive play style makes Webb a true dual threat quarterback. More spectacular plays would definitely be welcome in the preseason.
I spent a ton of time watching the offensive line block this past game. On my notepad, I had Fuller’s name written three times for good pass protection. The Texans played the second-year offensive lineman at center during the game, but he’s just as capable at guard. What’s that word the Texans like to use? Versatility? Oh, yeah...Fuller fits the bill. May the development continue.
His job is to replace Brennan Scarlett. Brennan had a better game and held the edge better than the rookie sixth round draft pick did. I thought Kalambayi played fine, but he may need more time to develop on the practice squad. I still have him on the team, but it’s necessary to highlight him as a roster casualty.
Last Four In
The Texans have an affinity for Alfred that I do not see. He had eight carriers for 14 yards against Kansas City. His missed catch in the flat to avoid getting creamed by a defender was lackluster at best. It’s only one preseason game, but after watching Troymaine Pope bust through the defense on multiple plays, Blue is quickly becoming an afterthought in the Texans’ backfield. When D’Onta Foreman comes back, Blue will slide back in the depth chart immediately.
From not being on this list at all to skyrocketing up the Rosterology board, Pope was the biggest surprise on Thursday night. Speed, patience, and versatility were Pope’s biggest assets, and they were on display this past week. Indeed, he has passed Tyler Ervin on the depth chart and is in a intriguing spot with D’Onta Foreman potentially starting the regular season on the PUP list. More to come on Pope.
I never thought Quessenberry would be this developed as an interior offensive lineman. The greatest story on the Texans’ roster, a cancer survivor, an inspiration to us all, played with tenacity and balance in the 35 plays he was on the field for. If you watch the video in Joe Webb’s analysis, Quessenberry’s (#77) block on the defensive tackle springs Webb and gives him a lane to run. The trio of Kyle Fuller, Chad Slade, and Quessenberry are campaigning to be backup interior linemen on the 53-man roster. Before the preseason game, I would’ve had said Chad Slade is a better option, but Quessenberry was a better run blocker and finished plays with more aggression than Slade.
Coates is going to bounce in and out of the 53-man roster throughout the entire preseason. He was another player who surprised me against the Chiefs with several impressive catches and drew pass interference penalties. I like him more on the outside than inside, whichis good because there will be less competition for that role. I still want to see Coates burn a cornerback on a deep route. He put up good film to work off, but now it’s a matter of stacking week after week.
First Four Out
A vanilla performance with no big plays or mistakes, Drummond is still teetering on the Rosterology board. This week, the seesaw leans out for the Michigan State product. Currently the fifth safety on the roster, Drummond is relying on either an injury, special teams success, or purely better performance to get back in the lineup.
Not to worry, Drummond. At least you didn’t get upstaged like the next guy.
He recorded 12 yards on just two carries, which isn’t bad, but Troymaine Pope sprinted on the field and outperformed Tyler at his own game. Ervin had a couple of opportunities on special teams, but he’ll need to make a splash against the 49ers if he wants to stop his fall. Ervin was one of the biggest disappointments this week in terms of Rosterology and Houston’s depth chart.
I don’t think Virgin had his best game against the Chiefs. He was slow in his trailing technique, and had a tough time on both comeback and curl routes. He will need to battle for the last cornerback position, but there were still a lot of positives in Virgin’s game. A good tackler, he had the second most tackles in the preseason opener, and can play outside corner, which is a position of need. He definitely was getting targeted by Chad Henne and gave up a couple of easy catches, but he’s still in the running for the last corner spot.
Confidence is waning for the third year tight end. On the Texans’ published depth chart, Anderson is the fifth tight end. Teams usually only keep three, so being the fifth isn’t a comfy seat. His performance on Thursday didn’t reflect roster-worthy play. He dropped an easy pass late in the game and wasn’t productive with the quantity of plays (17) he was given. If another preseason game goes by and Anderson is not further up the depth chart and playing like a starting TE, he may drop off this list entirely.
Pope, along with Jordan Akins, shined on offense. Pope is quickly becoming a hot topic for Texans’ fans. His biggest competition is Tyler Ervin; they both are shifty running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield. Pope ran several effective screen plays and had the longest reception last week that went for 34 yards. He still has work to do in a tight race for running back.
He’s falling behind in the competition for the last remaining spot in the secondary. If Decoud does not make the roster, I think Houston would put him on practice squad to let him continue to train. Since he’s making the switch to safety, it will take some time for him to adapt to a new position.
Player to Watch
Gilchrist is listed as the fourth weakside inside linebacker, but he recorded the most tackles in the game on Thursday night. Nine tackles, eight of which were solo tackles, and one tackle for loss is an impressive day with minimal reps. This is his first season out of Appalachian State, so he’s purely a try-out player with some upside. There is a small chance he makes this roster with so many players ahead of him, but if Gilchrist keeps racking up tackles in preseason games, the Texans cannot ignore his playmaking ability.
LDE: J.J. Watt, Carlos Watkins
NT: D.J Reader, Brandon Dunn
RDE: Christian Covington, Joel Heath
LOLB: Whitney Mercilus, Brennan Scarlett, Peter Kalambayi
ILB: Benardrick McKinney, Brian Peters
ILB: Zach Cunningham, Dylan Cole
ROLB: Jadeveon Clowney, Duke Ejiofor
CB: Aaron Colvin, Kevin Johnson
CB: Jonathan Joseph, Johnson Bademosi
FS: Justin Reid, Kareem Jackson,
SS: Tyrann Mathieu, Corey Moore
QB: Deshaun Watson, Brandon Weeden, Joe Webb III
FB: Jay Prosch
RB: Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman, Alfred Blue, Troymaine Pope
TE: Ryan Griffin, Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Keke Coutee, Braxton Miller
WR: Will Fuller, Bruce Ellington, Sammie Coates
LT: Julie’n Davenport, Kendall Lamm
LG: Zach Fulton, Kyle Fuller
C: Nick Martin, Greg Mancz
RG: Senio Kelemete, David Quessenberry
RT: Seantrel Henderson, Martinas Rankin
LS: Jon Weeks
K: Ka’imi Fairbairn
P: Shane Lechler