Last year, I had about three or four posts called “rosterology” during training camp which were based off the phenomena of picking who will be in the NCAA basketball tournament. The first step in understanding who will be on the 53 man roster is knowing who has improved their standing with the team during OTAs and who is falling behind.
Making the 90 man roster is one thing, but making the 53 is a whole different ball game. For these players, their chances have drastically changed over the past few weeks as reports from camp imply who has made strides and who has taken steps back.
Stock Up: RB Josh Ferguson
When head coach Bill O’Brien said that Ferguson is leading the way as the third running back on the roster, Houston Texans fandom simultaneously responded “who???”. Ferguson spent his last two years with the Colts and only has 16 carries to his name. Interesting enough, he has 23 receptions over the last two years. He was on the Texans’ practice squad for one week in October 2018 before being released, and was then signed and released by the Patriots in a two-day span.
Stock Down: CB Bradely Roby
Right out of the gate, the head coach said this about Roby, “He hasn’t done much, so we’ll just have to see in training camp”. Yikes. For a coach who says next to nothing about his players to out right call him out for not participating is a bad sign. Add this to the resume of blunders former-GM Brian Gaine has accumulated.
Roby is a part of a mediocre amalgamation of unproven corners new to the Texans’ roster that are vying for just a few spots. With Lonnie Johnson Jr. also injured, Roby’s outlook isn't all doom and gloom, but starting behind in the competition to make the roster is a tough spot.
Stock Up: RB D’Onta Foreman
Only affirmative comments have been made about the running back entering his third year in the league. He looks lean, he is faster than before, and most importantly... he says he feels “better than at the University of Texas, better than at high school even”. Foreman had 323 rush attempts his last year at Texas, and that wear and tear definitely impacted him his rookie year. He is a one cut back who showed great patience and timing in the running game his freshman year. This style of running fits O’Brien’s run scheme, but works best when you have a line than can maintain blocks of course.
The Texans will most likely keep him out of the preseason to make sure he is 100% ready to go by the start of the season. Although it will certainly take Foreman a couple games to get back into the groove, it would not be surprising if Foreman and Lamar Miller become running mates and split the carries by week four.
Stock Down: OT Matt Kalil
Kalil is not practicing due to injury, the Texans drafted two offensive lineman in the first two rounds, and returning players look to have improved over the offseason. The Texans are taking a risk with Kalil after a knee injury sidelined him for the 2018 season with a $7.5M one-year deal. When healthy, Kalil is a down right stud who made the Pro Bowl in his first year. However, injuries have sidelined his career and now he is in a make or break situation. Once training camp begins, it will be clear if Kalil is ready to put his career back on track or if the Texans are just kicking a tire down the road.
Stock Up: WR Vyncint Smith
Although a ton of the optimism surrounding Smith is based on one late game play against the Eagles in 2018, Smith is in line to be the Texans’ fourth WR. Since Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins were not participating in OTAs due to injury, Smith has had ample time to Gardner first team reps and improve his knowledge of the playbook. He is a down-field weapon whose size can cause mismatches across the field. The big man from the tiny school of Limestone College has a great chance to make the team and provide much needed depth behind a healing elite lineup of wide receivers.
Stock Down: TE Darren Fells
Even with Ryan Griffin out of the way, Fells still may be the odd man out in the TE room since there is too much optimism around the Jordan twins and Kahale Warring. The possibility of keeping four tight ends and one less wide receiver exists as Jordan Thomas and Kahale Warring can substitute as wide receivers in most packages. However, it is the other responsibility of tight ends, blocking, that may keep Fells on the roster. He is easily the best blocking tight end in the group, and Fells needs to keep it that way to fend off these young pups.
Stock up: S Jahleel Addae
Stock down: CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.
Stock up: DE/DT Carlos Watkins
Stock down: Aaron Colvin