The annual roster prediction series is back and is better than the Texans are....right? Houston’s front office has been more active than a gym full of New Year’s resolutions rats. Within the past couple days, they’ve traded Keion Crossen, cut second year WR Isaiah Coulter, cut Dontrell Hilliard, and activated a couple players off of COVID and concussion lists.
According to the NFL and ESPN, there is a set of rules that are being carried over from 2020 COVID experimentation. The rules include:
- Expansion of practice squads to 16 players, including up to six who have more than two accrued seasons.
- The ability to protect up to four practice squad players per week from being signed by other teams.
- Elevation of up to two practice squad players to the active roster, without removing any current players, before 3 p.m. CT the day before a game.
- Elevation of an additional practice squad player within 90 minutes before kickoff in the event of a late COVID-19 positive test result.
- Players placed on Injured Reserve can return after three weeks, rather than six as in previous seasons.
- Removal of the limit for how many players can be activated from IR.
Reading the tea leaves, the true roster size is 53 +2, so that’s how we’ll evaluate our roster. As always, we’ll do the Last Four In, First Four Out, Biggest Riser, and Biggest Faller. Then we’ll go position-by-position
Last Four IN:
First Four OUT:
Scottie “Terrier” Phillips
All I know, which isn’t a lot, is that neither Deshaun Watson nor Jeff Driskel deserve to play for the Texans this season. The Texans would be wise to surround the youngster Davis Mills with as many quality veterans as they can. The Texans do have a great history of bringing in talented, veteran quarterbacks, right?
Running Backs (4)
The work Scottie Phillips did during the first preseason game was impressive enough to vault him onto the 53 man roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent another season on the practice squad, but his youth will be a vital asset in this retirement home of a running back pool. Mark Ingram is quickly sliding down the depth chart and could be a potential surprise cut in the coming weeks.
Tight Ends (4)
Though Matt Weston wasn’t a fan, I thought Ryan Izzo played sufficiently well when on the field. He’s more well-rounded than Warring; admittedly, if you know me by now, I have a semi-personal vendetta against him. Akins is the starter for the group with Brown being the blocking-based tight end.
Wide Receiver (7)
What’s there to say about this group that isn’t already obvious? It lacks, speed, height, youth, versatility, and most importantly, talent. It’s a far cry from who should be here and it’s disappointing to see that they’ve cut Isaiah Coulter loose this early into training camp. Anthony Miller’s “minor dislocation” of his shoulder could become a factor into the depth chart and create an opportunity for the team to bring in other players.
Offensive Linemen (8)
We’re not going to break this out into positions, as it’s quite fluid between positions and roles at this time. This group is otherwise fairly set in place, aside of who will play center and who will be the backup there. There are several players on COVID protocol at the moment, which does not help the chemistry and development of our younger linemen. Charlie Heck is the one player I never thought would crack the roster, but here we are, in the furthest reality from the median.
Defensive Ends (6)
This is the strongest and deepest group on the entire roster. With veterans and young talent throughout, this crew has the opportunity to shine as a pillar of the new regime’s change and improvement. It’s a new era on the edge with the 4-3 defense system, especially one without J.J. Watt at the helm. However, Lawson, Martin, and the occasional rotational pieces alongside them should help provide a more consistent edge presence.
Defensive Tackles (4)
The confidence at the defense end position is quickly offset with a review of the tackles. Dunn and Blacklock don’t provide any pass rush threat, while Maliek Collins does a little bit of everything. Collins hopefully can be a revelation for this defense, which would mean more than you think.
The preseason game revealed significant gaps and crystallized many fans’ fears about the quality of this group. The complete overhaul did not impress in its first outing. There’s a lot to build upon with this group, but players such as Pierre-Louis and Thomas have to up their level of play. Rookie Wallow makes this group as the defense’s practice squad call-up.
An entire season of Hargreaves at corner will be a satirical display of incompetent cockiness. Bradley Roby’s inconstant play and health underpin what I’d consider a lackluster tenure in Houston. John Reid hopefully can supplant Desmond King and Mitchell as the slot corner; otherwise he’ll be a special teams asset.
The combination of Justin Reid, Lonnie Johnson, and A.J. Moore could be worse. Reid will be the lynchpin of the secondary and the best player on the field at times. Don’t be surprised if Eric Murray gets cut at some point, but the lack of young, competitive depth to supplant him makes it less likely.
Was there anyone in the game against the Packers that you saw performed well and deserves to be on the roster? Let me know in the comment section.