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Houston Texans Rosterology: Preseason Week 2

Who’s in, who’s out, and who’s on the cusp.

NFL: AUG 21 Preseason - Texans at Cowboys Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Today is the 80-man roster cut deadline, and the Texans are currently sitting at 81 players. They’ve already made a number of interesting moves, including cutting OT Roderick Johnson, 2020 rookie WR Isaiah Coulter, former starting DL Brandon Dunn, and All-Potential Player Kahale Warring. It’s out with the old and in with the new this offseason, which means we need to similarly adjust our criteria and evaluation of these players.

Consider anyone on the 2020 Houston Texans’ roster... expendable.

Since we’re in the business of making predictions (and business is boomin’ at the moment), the one player we predict will be cut to make the 80-man roster limit is CB Tremon Smith. He was targeted one too many times in the first half against the Cowboys, and the team recently traded for DB Ka’dar Hollman.

A couple of quick notes to help frame the decisions, mainly from the first half of the Cowboys game.

  • We were right about Kahale Warring being “out”, but we didn’t think it meant “out-out”, as in him getting cut entirely this early. This opens up the competition at TE3 for Anthony Auclair, Ryan Izzo, and rookie Brevin Jordan.
  • Vincent Taylor got the start at DT and played well for the most part, along with Terrance Mitchell at DB and Kevin Pierre-Lewis at LB. Mitchell was being targeted early by Garrett Gilbert. KPL was an active pass rushing linebacker early as well.
  • A ton of 3 TE sets. Expect to have 4 TEs make the roster if that’s part of the scheme going forward.
  • Jahleel Johnson got some early snaps.
  • Justin Britt starting at center is good to see. He looked slow but confident next two both Max Scharping and Tytus Howard.
  • Lovey Smith will use Desmond King II across the defense in the slot as a gritty athlete.
  • Didn’t see Shaq Lawson much at all early.
  • Alex Erickson, the slot WR from Wisconsin, saw action as a punt returner.
  • As mentioned above, Tremon Smith got targeted a lot.
  • ​​Geron Christian Sr. could be the back-up left tackle. He started there on Saturday while Laremy Tunsil sat out on the COVID list.

He’s an updated Rosterology estimate. Names italicized indicate they are new to their list.

Last Four IN:

Cornell Armstrong

Ka’Dar Hollman

Jordan Jenkins

Roy Lopez

First Four OUT:

Rex Burkhead

Keke Coutee

Anthony Auclair

Joe Thomas

Biggest Riser:

Alex Erickson

Biggest Faller:

Vernon Hargreaves III

Offense (26)

Quarterbacks (3)

Tyrod Taylor

Davis Mills

???????

Taylor started the game at QB and moved the ball down the field fairly efficiently. I worry about him in tight spaces and clutch moments. But oh me, oh my....Davis Mills used too much Elmer’s Glue as a kid because he tends to hold onto the ball way too long. I still refuse to believe Jeff Driskel will earn a role on this roster. I don’t even trust him to hold the clip board.

Running Backs (4)

David Johnson

Phillip Lindsay

Scottie Phillips

Mark Ingram II

The Texans are using Mark Ingram a lot in the preseason. This could mean they will rely on the veteran RB to tote the rock regularly during the season. Orrrrrrrrrrr they are trying to keep their actual bell cows rested. The Scottie Phillips versus Rex Burkhead debate will rage on in the comment section, but I seriously don’t think Burkhead can provide anything that Scottie can't or that Lindsay won’t already. Phillips looked strong between the tackles, but Burkhead’s two catches are difficult to look past.

Tight Ends (4)

Jordan Akins

Pharaoh Brown

Brevin Jordan

Ryan Izzo

Akins and Brown solidly control the first two slots on the depth chart, but this group has been a jockeying position for four straight years. It will be a true TE by committee.

Again, Ryan Izzo has earned himself a role in this offense. Three tight end sets were used quite often, which begs the question of whether we keep a fourth TE on the roster. Brevin Jordan had a good catch and looked fluid down the field. Don’t be surprised if Anthony Auclair slips into this list by week’s end or at least ends up on a practice squad.

Wide Receiver (7)

Nico Collins

Chris Conley

Brandin Cooks

Alex Erickson

Anthony Miller

Chris Moore

Andre Roberts

Chris Conley was featured on this week’s Hard Knocks for being locked down by Trevon Diggs. Conley didn’t inspire much in Arlington; he didn’t record a catch on three targets. Chris Moore looked strong with a 26 yard reception and another 7 yard catch. He’s a fringe backup on this team who we need to keep an eye on.

Also, you’ll notice one name on and off this list. Alex Erickson played more and better than Keke Coutee. It wouldn’t shock me based on the past two weeks if Coutee was let go in favor of keeping a promising younger slot guy like Erickson.

Offensive Linemen (8)

Justin Britt

Justin McCray

Charlie Heck

Max Scharping

Geron Christian Jr.

Marcus Cannon

Laremy Tunsil

Tytus Howard

Geron Christian Jr. started at left tackle and looked sufficient. He struggled on a couple bull rushes that were set up against him, but overall I’ll take the performance. The Texans also featured an interior of Howard-Britt-Scharping, which is not exciting but I feel confident in heading into the season. Britt has outplayed my expectations, which candidly were submarine level low. Same with Heck. His feet have vastly improved since his college days.

Defense (26)

Defensive Ends (6)

Jacob Martin

Whitney Mercilus

Jonathan Greenard

Jordan Jenkins

Shaq Lawson

Charles Omenihu

No changes here. I may swap Jordan Jenkins for Jahleel Johnson, not because of their initials but because of the quality of their play. Jenkins is a strong defensive end, but Johnson’s productivity across the defensive line may ensure him the final spot in this group.

If Shaq Lawson doesn’t make this team, don’t gasp. He wasn’t a contributor until the rotational players came in and wasn’t a factor until late. He lacks the upside of players such as Omenihu and Greenard, though he still can be a reliable player on this team.

Omenihu could be a stud. There, I said it. Hook ‘em.

Defensive Tackles (4)

Maliek Collins

Roy Lopez

Vincent Taylor

Ross Blacklock

Taylor started at DT this week and looked effective in a two-gap system. Don’t ask him to cut across any faces, as he was quickly pushed aside on several run blocks on zone scheme. Blacklock doesn’t appear to have developed any this offseason and could turn out to be quite the disappointing draft pick. He’s a battering ram with active feet but has sticks for hands. I’ve enjoyed watching Lopez battle in the interior and believe there’s a lot to work with there. Maliek Collins flashed on the occasional defensive play and should be a decent complimentary player.

Linebackers (5)

Kamu Grugier-Hill

Zach Cunningham

Christian Kirksey

Kevin Pierre-Louis

Garret Wallow (+1 Practice Squad)

Joe Thomas gets axed here to bring the number down to five. Not fantastic in the pass defense. This opens up a position in the much debated defensive backs group that needs all the help it can get. KPL and Christian Kirksey looked great against the run but less so against the pass. Wallow will be a special teams ace, which is exactly what you’d expect from a late-round rookie linebacker.

Cornerbacks (6)

Bradley Roby

Vernon Hargreaves III

Desmond King II

Terrance Mitchell

Ka’Dar Hollman

Cornell Armstrong (+1 Practice Squad)

Ka’Dar Hollman joins this group after being traded for a seventh round pick from the Packers. Roby had a solid outing when he played. My main focus was on the lack of quality from Hargreaves. Uninspiring performances abound, VH3 did not impress this game whatsoever.

Watching Desmond King play touches that little spot under my chin that makes my proverbial tail wag. He’s one of those “I could use 10 more like you” guys who you simply want to give a chance.

Armstrong slips onto this roster as a part of a fledgling defensive back room. He played well and disrupted several passes throughout the game. Most importantly, he can also contribute on special teams.

Safeties (5)

Justin Reid

Lonnie Johnson Jr.

A.J. Moore Jr.

Eric Murray

Terrence Brooks

Brooks and Johnson both notching interceptions off tips is great to see. The Texans were the worst in the league in 2020 at getting turnovers, so seeing both of those players capitalize on free chances is heartwarming. This group may be coming together better than we hoped, especially based on the Twitter excitement from both Johnson and Reid.

A ton of new faces on this Rosterology, and potentially the largest single change in the predicted roster in a single week period. More change will come. The roster is set to be cut to 53 players on or before August 31st at 3 p.m. CDT.