This season, the NFL's final cutdown to 53 players was much different than in years past. This preseason, the NFL eliminated the cutdown to 75 players that normally occurs after the third preseason game, so rather than a gradual shaving off of lower-tier talent, the waiver wire was flooded with players on Saturday afternoon.
I point that out somewhat pre-emptively as the purpose of this post will be to grade my accuracy on predicting the Houston Texans 53-man roster, and the waiver wire glut means that rosters are still somewhat fluid heading into this week. Still, there were some interesting decisions made by Bill O'Brien and Rick Smith that deserve a little bit of analysis.
We'll get into those choices in just a minute, but first, here's the scorecard on my final 53-man roster prediction. Here are the players I had the Texans keeping that were not on the initial 53-man roster:
QB Brandon Weeden
WR Jaelen Strong
WR Chris Thompson
OT/OG/C David Quessenberry
OT Duane Brown
CB Denzel Rice
K Nick Novak
So, seven total misfires. It should be pointed out that, as of cutdown time, the Texans still had Brown on the "Did Not Report" list, and that Jaelen Strong is suspended for the first game of the regular season, so the Texans get a reprieve on his roster spot until Week 2. Those count against my seven, but are really, more or less, administrative errors on my part.
RB Akeem Hunt
RB Jordan Todman
WR Will Fuller
OG/C Kyle Fuller
DT Brandon Dunn
CB Dee Virgin
K Ka'imi Fairbairn
Yes, the first version of the Texans roster still had Will Fuller as an active player, despite his having a broken clavicle that will keep him out until October, at least.
Now, a few observations on some of these roster decisions made by the Texans:
1. The most surprising cut for me has to be Weeden, who I've had as a lock to make the team since my first version of the 53-man roster way back before camp started. On the surface, it's a third-string quarterback, so it's nothing to get too worked up over. However, this is a team that has quarterback issues, many injury-related, every season. This is a big statement on how the Texans feel about rolling with Watson if something happened to Savage. Also, it's not like Weeden did much to earn a roster spot in his sparse appearances in the preseason. He did not look good. Still, I'd be shocked if he didn't find his way onto a roster over the next few days.
2. I was sad to see Quessenberry not make the 53-man roster, largely because it would have been a tremendous chapter in his story. The team did bring him back on the practice squad, so the final Texans chapter for DQ has not been written yet.
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3. Along those lines, the spot I thought Quessenberry would get wound up going to rookie seventh-round pick Kyle Fuller. In fact, all of the Texans draft choices made the 53-man roster.
4. The Strong suspension allowed the Texans to keep an overload of running backs/kick return specialists. Including fullback Jay Prosch, there were seven running backs on the team just after cuts. This was cleared up, to some degree, when the Texans waived Akeem Hunt and added former Cowboy WR Andy Jones off the waiver wire. I'll be interested to see if Jordan Todman gets an opportunity to stick with this team and steal snaps from Tyler Ervin. Keeping him on the 53-man roster shows that Todman may be more than just a body to keep around because of nagging injuries. (It's worth noting, Alfred Blue is still dealing with a high ankle sprain.)
5. The Nick Novak era is over, and now we can see why the Texans chose to keep Fairbairn around after his preseason ended last year with a
possibly phantom injury. The Texans did this with Randy Bullock after they drafted him in 2012, before giving him the job in 2013. One hopes Fairbairn will work out better than Bullock did.
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