Since the time this team started up preseason in late July, the Houston Texans roster has been constantly in motion, with revolving doors built around almost every spot below the starters on the depth chart.
Throughout the preseason, training camp and the first few weeks of the regular season, the Texans had the first pick in the waiver selection order, and took frequent advantage of it, most notably coming away with immediate contributors like wide receiver Damaris Johnson and cornerback Darryl Morris. But contributing bodies can come from many places, such as a returning Danieal Manning (returning meaning "coming back from Cincinnati" and now returning meaning "returning kickoffs") and a wide load nose tackle in veteran Ryan Pickett.
General manager Rick Smith has often said that the Texans' roster is a "living, breathing thing," and in 2014 this organism is clearly not afraid of massive amounts of Botox, makeup and, perhaps by about Week 9 or 10, significant dosages of medication.
We shall see. For now, this week was your standard Texans 2014 week, with lots of tweaking, moving and shaking at the bottom of the roster.
TEXANS RELEASE SAFETY SHILOH KEO, ADD JOSH AUBREY TO 53-MAN ROSTER So, the Shiloh Keo era is now officially over, and while his overall play at the safety spot is very replaceable, we will certainly miss his gutty effort on special teams and his overzealous celebrations on tackles 12 yards down the field. Unwarranted enthusiasm like that is a rare commodity. So now comes the part where we openly recognize that five of the eight draft picks from the 2011 class are no longer with the team. To refresh your memory, here is that class of Texans draft picks (bold are still with the Texans):
1. J.J. Watt, SH ("SH" is abbreviation for "Super Hero") 2. Brooks Reed, OLB 2. Brandon Harris, CB 4. Roc Carmichael, CB 5. Shiloh Keo, S 5. TJ Yates, QB 7. Derek Newton, OL 7. Cheta Ozougwu, LB
On the surface, the gut reaction to this development, five of eight draft picks gone (and Brandon Harris's name being anywhere close to a piece of analysis), is a blend of horror and anger. I mean, logical reasoning says, "If we're supposed to build depth through the draft, then what the hell is up with a majority of a class still on rookie contracts being either out of football or with other teams?" This is horrible, right?!?
Well, kind of. It's a little more complicated than that, and probably deserves its own post and some more comparative analysis, but one thing is certain -- J.J. Watt is the smart bomb in any 2011 Draft warfare. Through his unbridled greatness, Watt practically cancels out the negativity involved with the lack of bodies still remaining (and the uneven performance from the other 2011 draftees still with the team, Brooks Reed and Derek Newton).
TEXANS SHUFFLE SOME AGGIE WRs ON THE PRACTICE SQUAD As part of the gaggle of moves triggered by the release of Keo, the Texans did some maneuvering involving two former Aggie wide receivers. First, they placed current practice squad-er and resident speedster EZ Nwachukwu on the practice squad/injured list with an undisclosed ailment. Next, they welcomed slot receiver/precise route runner Travis Labhart back to the practice squad, keeping my own personal hope alive that he will find a spot on the squad at some point. I am a big Labhart fan, and it's easier to try to sound smart about his ability to "always get open" when he's, y'know, actually employed by an NFL team. So Travis, welcome back. Your good hands, high football IQ and never-ending motor will always have a place in my heart.
TEXANS RELEASE KICKER/PUNTER CHRIS BOSWELL Well, that was fun. Boswell was brought back to the practice squad last week as a punting insurance policy when it appeared there was a chance that regular punter Shane Lechler (Another Aggie! All these damn Aggies!) might miss the Bills game on Sunday after suffering what appeared to be a hip flexor injury when he had a punt blocked in the Giants game. As it turned out, Lechler was able to go Sunday, and Boswell's release is probably a sign that whatever was ailing Lechler is no longer a concern. So now Boswell will go back to proving theorems, scribbling Punnett Squares, doing science experiments or whatever it is Rice grads do while they're waiting for the phone to ring for the next kicking opportunity.
TEXANS RELEASE RUNNING BACK RONNIE BROWN It seemed a little bit odd when the Texans broke camp with four running backs on the 53-man roster. It seemed even odder when they suited up four running backs each game thus far this season (aside from the Giants game, when Arian Foster was inactive with his hamstring injury). Releasing Brown seems logical just from a roster balance standpoint (three running backs and one fullback, Jay Prosch), and is probably also a sign of how they feel about a) Arian Foster's long-term health and b) Alfred Blue's (and to a lesser extent, Jonathan Grimes's) ability to spell Foster whenever necessary.
TEXANS SIGN CORNERBACK JUMAL ROLLE FROM PACKERS PRACTICE SQUAD To fill brown's spot on the 53-man roster, the Texans signed a youngster by the name of Jumal Rolle off of the Green Bay Packers' practice squad. Rolle is a cornerback who played at a Division II school that I will admit I'd never heard of until the Texans signed Rolle on Wednesday. The college is called Catawba, and honestly, if there were a game called "Women's prison or college?" I would've totally gotten "Catawba" wrong. (Also, "Catawba" feels like a good name for some sort of virus or affliction that involves dry skin and wheezing.) At any rate, Rolle will be on the Texans' 53-man roster for at least three games (league rules when you sign someone off another team's practice squad), and more important, enters the top ten for "Favorite Rolles" at number EIGHT on the countdown. The list is as follows:
10. Samari 9. Myron 8. Jumal 7. Shake, Rattle, and... 6. Stop, Drop, and... 5. Jelly 4. Antrel 3. Rock and... 2. Swiss Cake
...and at number one on the "Rolle" top 10 power rankings.....
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1. ESTHER ROLLE