Insights into the roster.
It's definitely not as exciting as finding out your team's first round draft choice, and it's definitely way more exciting than getting a copy of the new Yellow Pages. It's probably somewhere in the meaty part of the curve, near the unveiling of the NFL regular season schedule and any pregnancy test involving Antonio Cromartie.
Unlike the unflinching finality of all the aforementioned, an NFL depth chart is completely fluid and can change at the drop of an injury or the whim of Bill O'Brien.
So without further ado, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle's Brian T. Smith's Twitter account, here is the first iteration of your 2014 Houston Texans:
— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) August 5, 2014
And courtesy of me, here are some of my initial observations:
1. There are two rookies listed in the first string. You have sixth round fullback Jay Prosch, who has the benefit of being (more or less) the only fullback on the roster. This is kind of the same thing as Jon Weeks being named the starting long snapper. Then, of course, you have first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney at outside linebacker, which is significant because...
2....Whitney Mercilus is listed as second string behind Clowney. Again, reiterating the point from the intro of this post, these things are all fluid, and certainly I would expect all three of the Clowney, Mercilus, Brooks Reed troika to get copious reps come regular season, but it would've been easy enough to list Clowney as second on the depth chart considering a) he's a rookie and b) there's a good chance he doesn't play this Saturday. But instead, the team put Clowney in front, perhaps sending a message to Mercilus, for whom this is a big year, with the team having to make its decision on his fifth-year option after the season's over.
3. The most intriguing (but scary) position on this depth chart is... Inside linebacker. It was generally assumed that Reed would be moving inside before camp started, but it appears as though he will remain on the outside. So now with Brian Cushing still recovering from his 2013 knee injury, the first two layers of inside linebacker depth consist of recent undrafted free agents (Justin Tuggle 2013, Max Bullough 2014) and street free agents from last season (Jeff Tarpinian, Mike Mohamed).
4. Positions where the team will be keeping an eye on the waiver wire...
Cornerback As the depth chart currently stands, Brandon Harris is in virtually zero danger of losing his job. Given how his first three years have unfolded, that's just wrong.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is locked in as the starter, and Tom Savage is locked in on a roster spot (either as the second or third stringer, he's not getting cut). So Case Keenum isn't really competing with either of them. No, Keenum is competing with whatever potential backups could be waived by other teams. Right now, if I had to wager, I'd bet the Texans' backup quarterback in Week 1 isn't on this roster, based on Keenum looking like pretty much the same confused enigma that finished the 2013 season.
Offensive line When you look up and see Alex Kupper starting at one guard spot for you (granted, due to injuries), it's a pretty good indicator that you'd best keep an eye out for upgrades.
5. Keshawn Martin is shooting up the list of "former near locks who should now be a little nervous". The one thing that Martin could hang his hat on was the perception that he brought something (potentially) to the return game, and yet he's listed behind Mike Thomas as both the kick and punt returner, which is odd only because Thomas is more of a gnat than a burner. Add to that what has been stellar play in the receiving game by some of the other bodies in camp (Nwachukwu, Labhart), and the end of the Martin era would not be a major surprise to me.
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6. The running back depth chart has to be a misprint. Alfred Blue is, in my opinion, the second best running back in camp, and it's not even really a huge debate.
7. Randy Bullock is listed as the number one kicker.... ....which means, theoretically, I should get a higher payout if I bet Chris Boswell to make the team and unseat Bullock.
So let's pile on another sawbuck on Boswell!