It has now been announced, the crew of 53 that the Houston Texans will take up to New England this weekend to bring home one of the most important upsets in franchise history. On Friday afternoon, the Texans announced a slew of cuts, some pretty noteworthy, to get down to the initial 53-man roster. Once the other 31 teams were done waiving players, the Texans decided to churn the bottom three spots on the roster Sunday afternoon.
Here was the initial wave of moves announced on Friday:
Here are the three waiver pickups, and corresponding releases:
And for good measure, here are the first eight players on the practice squad:
6. A few surprises kept around
Once the overall churn was done on Sunday night, there remained a few surprising players kept around on the roster. First and perhaps foremost, Kendall Lamm, last season's starting left tackle in the opener, who never really saw the field much after the opener, has made it to a fourth season as a Houston Texan. It's truly remarkable that there isn't a better tackle out there available right now than Lamm, but whatever. Also, Tyler Ervin has apparently made the team as the return specialist, despite not breaking off a single noteworthy return in the preseason. It would appear, he will maintain a role as a backup running back, as well. Also, somewhat surprisingly, the Texans kept an overload at defensive line, with seven making the team (and that's counting Jadeveon Clowney as a linebacker). Like everything on an NFL roster, especially right now, the situation is fluid, but none of Joel Heath, Angelo Blackson, Carlos Watkins, nor Brandon Dunn were cut. I'm fine what that, all played well enough to deserve to make the team.
5. Waiver pickups on Sunday
I can't really give you a draftnik-style breakdown of Buddy Howell, Natrell Jamerson, or A.J. Moore, except to say that I'm guessing both of the defensive backs, Jamerson and Moore, are being picked up for their prowess on special teams. As for Howell, he looks like a back with some wiggle, who could compete for the third down reps that I thought Troymaine Pope would be getting. Pope looked very solid through the first half of camp, but then petered out the last couple weeks, and was cut on Sunday to make room for Howell.
4. The end of the Braxton Miller and Jay Prosch Era
There were a few cuts that seemed like we were watching a scene out of The Sopranos, where one of the capos would point out that there was a new boss of the family and he "ain't respectin' old arrangements!" Well, Brian Gaine is that new boss, and he ain't respectin' the fact that Braxton Miller was a third round pick two years ago, nor is he respectin' the concept of a fullback taking up a roster spot. Sorry, Jay Prosch. Of all the cuts on Friday, other than Shane Lechler and David Quessenberry (more on that in a minute), these two were the most noteworthy just based on tenure with the team.
3. The drafted rookies all made the initial 53-man roster
Six of the eight drafted rookies were locks to make the team — safety Justin Reid, tight end Jordan Akins, tackle Martinas Rankin, wide receiver Keke Coutee, tight end Jordan Thomas, and edge rusher Duke Ejiofor. The other two are linebacker Peter Kalambayi and cornerback Jermaine Kelly. Kalambayi had a really nice showing in the fourth preseason game against the Cowboys, flashing on special teams and showing competence at both inside and outside linebacker. Kelly has been banged up virtually all preseason, and should go on injured reserve by the time you're reading this.
2. This is probably the end of the line with David Quessenberry and the Texans....
....but man, what a story! Drafted all the way back in 2013, it's been a star crossed five years for Quessenberry, with a successful battle against non-Hodgkins lymphoma being his greatest triumph. However, once cleared to play, Quesssenberry didn't stop there. He managed to put all of his football weight back on, and was able to finally play in an NFL regular season game down the stretch last season. Needless to say, Quessenberry will always hold a special place in the heart of Texan fans.
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1. The Shane Lechler Decision
I got a bunch of picks wrong on my final 53-man roster prediction< way more than I care to admit. However, one pick that I did get right was the Texans' deciding to move on from the 42-year old Lechler and attach the welfare of the punting game to the right leg of rookie Trevor Daniel. Here is what I wrote last week about this prediction:
Here we go — when Bill O'Brien said there was definitely a compettion at punter early in training camp, we all kind of laughed. Then, Daniel started booming punts and showing all the tools of a guy who could be the Texans' punter for the next ten years. Shane Lechler is going to be a Hall of Famer, and the Texans love him. Hell, O'Brien made him a captain last season (and maybe other seasons, too, I only noticed last season because Breno Giacomini and Brian Cushing were also captains, and...wow, wait, maybe it's not good to be a captain. Ok, continue...). So anyway, the Texans can't use Lechler's pedigree as a talking point in this evaluation. It's about who is best now, with a nod toward the future. It's a tough cut, but I'm going to guess Brian Gaine, Bill O'Brien, and special teams coach Brad Seely won't be afraid to make it.
Pretty much nailed that one! Good to be right some of the time.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.