Full disclosure: I've never sifted through someone else's garbage, and I've never acquired any piece of my furniture by snagging it from the end of someone's driveway after they've thrown it out.
But to each his own, and if you've done this before, hey, as Tony Soprano would say, "Ya do whatcha gotta do to keep ya' dick up..."
I don't judge.
Hell, NFL teams do it every year at this time! Figuratively, at least... (although would anyone have put it past Al Davis to at least do an occasional drive-by past the DeBartolo Mansion back in the day just to see what they'd thrown out?)
What I mean is that, by last Saturday evening, all 32 NFL teams had identified the 53 men from their own camp that they wanted to go to battle with, but they were afforded the opportunity to see what players the other 31 teams had decided to put out at the end of the metaphorical driveway for the "waiver trash man" to come pick up.
And through that process, this weekend was another eye opener for how far the Texans have come as an organization, at least in terms of talent evaluation.
Used to be, not too long ago, that if you were an NFL player (current or aspiring) and the Texans' brass wheeled you out to the end of the driveway on Kirby for the next day's pickup, that meant you were pretty much finished as an NFL player.
For NFL purposes, Houston was the last stop on the Shitbird Express. We were the bizarro-Big Apple; if you couldn't make it here, you couldn't make it anywhere. A pink slip from the Texans a few years back would mean it was time to get that insurance agency started, see what opportunities there were in local radio or start working that coaching Rolodex.
But lately, a lot more people have been poking around at the Texans' discards, a sign that the roster is pretty deep and pretty talented. Hell, this year at cut-down time, you'd think the Texans were putting out perfectly good, unscathed furniture items with the price tag still dangling off the knobs on one of the drawers. Totally mint condition!
Tyler Clutts? Waived by the Texans, picked up by the Dolphins, because apparently there are still like half a dozen teams that use a fullback.
Dennis Johnson? Waived by the Texans, picked up immediately by the Cleveland Browns, despite the fact that Johnson looked like he was using waffle irons for hands in the final two games of the preseason.
Chris Jones? Waived by the Texans, picked up immediately by the Buccaneers, because frankly I just think Chris Jones has a chance to be a decent NFL player.
The Texans had not one, but TWO tight end cuts get picked up off the end of the driveway and wind up on another team's practice squad, Jake Byrne to the Chargers and Adam Schiltz to the Titans.
Hell, the Eagles even swapped one of their recyclables (something called a "Nate Menkin") for Jeff Maehl at one point during the preseason!
The point in all of this? The Texans' figurative trash has crossed over into "another man's treasure" territory, another small sign we have a pretty good football team on our hands.
(By the way, I'm bracing myself because I know somehow my analogy will get misconstrued into my saying that the people who got cut are trashy people or are actual trash when in fact I'm just making the most convenient and understandable "discard" analogy that I have available. For the record, I've met Chris Jones and he is a great dude! I've interviewed Dennis Johnson, AWESOME guy! Tyler Clutts is probably a solid guy, too, unfortunate last name notwithstanding. Okay?) Now, a few little nuggets on the Texans' roster moves as I chow down on some Labor Day barbecue:
First, well, here is the roster:
OFFENSE (25 total) QB (3): Schaub, Yates, Keenum RB (3): Foster, Tate, Wood FB (1): G. Jones TE (3): Daniels, G. Graham, Griffin WR (5): A. Johnson, Hopkins, Posey, Martin, Jean OL (10): D. Brown, W. Smith, Myers, Brooks, Newton, R. Harris, Quessenberry, B. Jones, C. White, Gardner
DEFENSE (26 total) DL (6): Watt, A. Smith, Mitchell, Jamison, Crick, McClain LB (10): B. Reed, Cushing, Mays, Mercilus, Dobbins, Sharpton, Tuggle, Jefferson, Montgomery, Braman CB (5): Joseph, Jackson, McCain, B. Harris, Bouye S (5): E. Reed, Manning, Keo, Swearinger, Pleasant
SPECIALISTS (3 total) K (1): Bullock P (1): Lechler LS (1): Weeks
Injured Reserve (4): Bonner, Lemon, T. Williams, B. Williams Practice Squad (8): CB Roc Carmichael, C Alex Kupper, DE Keith Browner, LB Mike Mohamed, FB Zach Boren, RB Ray Graham, WR Andy Cruse, WR EZ Nwachukwu
A few thoughts:
- Keep in mind that the Texans get a roster exemption for the first week of the season that allows them to carry an extra man to make up for Antonio Smith's one-week suspension for attempting to play Whack-A-Mole with Richie Incognito's helmet on Richie Incognito's face. (By the way, Antonio says he's "forgiven" Incognito, so there's that. Also, he's forgiven himself, so whatever.)
- Early "rent, don't buy" line for who gets bumped when Smith comes back (assuming no easy "injured reserve" candidates coming off of the San Diego game):
* Cody White -200 * Field +150
(I have no idea if Cody White has practice squad eligibility, and I don't really care, and honestly if you really care and aren't a friend or family member of Cody White's, then we probably can't be friends.)
- Biggest surprise #1: When a guy goes into the final preseason game as part of "Team Bubble Wrap" (my code name for all the players who are wearing jerseys, ball caps and no pads during preseason games), you assume he's made the team. At least I assumed that! Stupid me! Deji Karim was part of Team Bubble Wrap against the Cowboys, then he was part of Team Hotjobs.com the next day, as undrafted Cierre Wood made the 53-man roster over Karim. I like the decision, and not just because Wood is a highly intelligent Notre Dame graduate. Wood has a chance to be a very productive back in this system; the running style similarities to Arian Foster seem to reinforce that. There are a million Deji Karims out there on the waiver wire, if the Texans ever want to dip into that pool again. (Admittedly, none of them with as cool a first name as "Deji," though.)
- Biggest surprise #2: The sheer bliss at the outside linebacker position! When we saw the undrafted combination of Justin Tuggle/Willie Jefferson both getting first team snaps AND the drafted combination of Sam Montgomery/Trevardo Williams both struggling, we assumed that someone would have to go, especially if you count special teams ace Bryan Braman among the outside linebackers, which the Texans do. But lo and behold, they found a way to keep everybody paid and, presumably, everybody happy. Tuggle and Jefferson both deservedly make the team, Montgomery makes it and immediately becomes the favorite in the "draft choice to be declared inactive most weeks" pool, and Trevardo Williams gets a paycheck for what amounts to a redshirt season while he tries to grow two or three inches! Like I said, SHEER BLISS!
- By the way, if you watched the Texans the whole preseason without knowing which rookie outside linebackers were drafted and undrafted, and you only knew one was a third rounder, one was a fourth rounder and two were undrafted, you would have ranked them in this order:
3rd round: Willie Jefferson 4th round: Justin Tuggle Undrafted: Sam Montgomery, Trevardo Williams
Further proof that even guys who scout this 24 hours a day, year round don't know. They know better than we do, but really, when it comes to any degree of certainty, nobody knows anything.
- That said, pretty damn good job by the Texans scouting staff on the undrafted guys, with four of them making the 53-man roster (Wood, Jefferson, Tuggle, A.J. Bouye) and wide receiver Alec Lemon making enough plays for the team to concoct an "OH, MY ARM...IT'S BROKEN" injury in order to keep him around for a redshirt season. Good job, boys!
- Speaking of injured reserve, four guys on it right now, all rookies, so this will be a quasi-redshirt year for Lemon, Trevardo Williams, Alan Bonner and Brennan Williams. Of all those on that list, the one who had the best chance to compete for a prominent role was probably Brennan Williams, given Derek Newton's continued struggles at right tackle. However, Williams's knee was just never able to get right after he injured it in rookie minicamp. Assuming he returns healthy, best case for Williams is, if Newton struggles again, he will be back and hopefully healthy competing for that spot. Worst case would be that he competes for the swing tackle spot occupied collectively right now by Ryan Harris and Andrew Gardner.
- Three quarterbacks! So if the preseason is any indication, no city will have more drama over who is named the backup every week than Houston. That's a lock.
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- Quick practice squad thoughts: The Roc Carmichael Era is on life support, but for now, it lives on...I like seeing Andy Cruse make the practice squad, because it's like we swapped out Jeff Maehl for a bigger, more souped-up version of the stereotypical "cagey, white, precise route running" wide receiver...Ray Graham, cut before the 75 roster reduction, but now back in the mix, proof you gotta stay by that phone!
One reminder, my Texans cover story in the print edition of the Houston Press drops later this week on newsstands Thursday and online this Wednesday, so keep an eye out!
Bring on the Chargers!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.