It's not quite as hectic this week for the Houston Texans as it was this time last year. In 2019, the Texans had to combine cutdown week with a series of franchise-altering trades, the biggest of which brought in Laremy Tunsil and sent out Jadeveon Clowney. This season, it's much quieter on the trade front. Silent, actually, and instead, Bill O'Brien can focus on "chipping away" at the roster tog et it down to 53 players.
That process began Monday afternoon with these small moves:
The Houston #Texans have waived DT Albert Huggins and QB Alex McGough from the active roster.— Texans PR (@TexansPR) August 31, 2020
The team also released ILB Daren Bates from the active roster.
Truth be told, I was going to do another final version of my 53 man roster prediction, the second version of which I posted last Friday, but honestly, very little of it was going to change, since the only things that have occurred since then are three practices and a scrimmage that the media was unable to view in person. So instead, I am giving you four predictions on how the Texans will finalize the roster and juggle bodies over the next few days as they get ready to open the 2020 season against Kansas City.
So without further ado, here are four predictions surrounding the Texans' roster construction process:
The position overloaded with bodies will be the tight end group
The tight end position has never been incredibly deep with talent under Bill O'Brien, but this year may end up starting a new trend. We know that two of the spots will go to veteran Darren Fells, who had seven touchdown catches last season, and that Jordan Akins will have a spot as well. He was, quite possibly, the most impressive offensive player in camp (not named Deshaun Watson). So then it comes down to Jordan Thomas and Kahale Warring for the third tight end spot, and my suspicion right now is that both end up making the team.
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DeAndre Carter has won the battle with Keke Coutee
This time last season, Coutee was viewed as a key piece of a rising offense. However, he failed to grow as a player in his second season, had trouble grasping the playbook, and DeAndre Carter seized the return job and a spot in the receiving rotation when Will Fuller was injured (which was often). Coutee came into this camp with an eye on redemption, and through the first handful of practices, he looked very good. But a stress fracture in his foot held him out of practice for several days, and while Coutee was out, Carter was very solid as both a receiver and return man. I'd be shocked if Carter didn't make the team. The question becomes how they find a way to stash Coutee on the roster somewhere, because my guess is that he would get picked up by another team, if the Texans tried to get him through waivers and onto the practice squad.
There will be liberal and creative use of injured reserve
Speaking of using every angle of roster management, one of the ripple effects of the coronavirus is that the league has installed much more liberal rules for injured reserve and the practice squad. Teams can now bring back as many packers as they want from injured reserve, and they can do so after a player has only been on the list for just three weeks. (Normally, they can only bring two players back all season, and that is after they've been on the list for EIGHT weeks.) As a result, I would expect the team to stash players with even minor injuries on injured reserve,throughout the season and coming out of camp.
Special teams will be well represented
Since the now retired Brad Seely arrived in 2018 to coordinate special teams, the Texans have placed a special emphasis on ensuring that they have at least a half dozen or so players whose specific assignment is playing on special teams. Among those fitting that category who I expect to make the 53 man roster coming out of this camp — Peter Kalambayi, Buddy Howell, Michael Thomas, A.J. Moore, Keion Crossen, Cullen Gillaspia (although he could go on injured reserve, as well), and possibly Tyrell Adams.