My radio cohost Ted Johnson (former New England Patriots linebacker, three-time Super Bowl champion, man about town and all around swell guy) were discussing roster cut-downs on the Texans post game show on Saturday night. (NOTE: You can hear Ted and I following ALL Texans games on your home for Houston Texans football, SportsRadio 610!)
The conclusion we arrived at is that the day when rosters go to 53 players is a little like trash day — all 32 teams are putting their discards out next to the curb. Some of the discards are true "football throwaways," guys who are probably playing their last bit of football. The rest are recyclables, guys that have will value to some other team and likely land on their feet with another NFL opportunity.
On cut down day, there are sellers and there are scavengers. Scavengers are teams that are rummaging through other teams' recycle trying to upgrade their roster, often desperately so. Sellers are teams whose recyclables are still very appetizing, and could make other NFL teams. Simply put, teams with thin, bad rosters are scavengers; teams with deep rosters are sellers.
My point with all of this — I think for the first time in the Bill O'Brien Era, the Texans are going to be sellers at roster cut-down time. I think other teams will quickly scoop up some of the guys they kick to the curb. With that in mind, let's try to figure out the latest version of the 53-man roster...
THE LOCKS (36) .. * denotes rookie, new "locks" are in CAPS
QUARTERBACK (2) — Brock Osweiler, Tom Savage
RUNNING BACK (2) — Lamar Miller,* Tyler Ervin
WIDE RECEIVER (4) — DeAndre Hopkins, Jaelen Strong,* Will Fuller,* Braxton Miller
TIGHT END (2) — C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin
OFFENSIVE LINE (9) — Duane Brown (T), Xavier Su'a-Filo (G),* Nick Martin (C), Jeff Allen (G), Derek Newton (T), Chris Clark (T), Tony Bergstrom (G/C), GREG MANCZ (G/C), KENDALL LAMM (T)
DEFENSIVE LINE (4) — J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork, Christian Covington, D.J. READER
LINEBACKER (5) — Brian Cushing, Bernardrick McKinney, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, John Simon
CORNERBACK (3) — Kareem Jackson, Jonathan Joseph, Kevin Johnson, A.J. BOUYE
SAFETY (2) — Quintin Demps, Andre Hal
SPECIALISTS (2) — Jon Weeks, Shane Lechler
So the additions this week to the "LOCKS" list (along with a short blurb on each) are the following:
* MANCZ: The clear backup center once Martin went out.
* LAMM: He's started two preseason games now... he's making the team.
* READER: He was a beast on Saturday against the Saints.
* BOUYE: He's gotten way too many compliments from the coaches to now get cut... has looked really good.
So let's try to put together the rest of the roster...
FILLING IT IN..... (17)
37. Kenny Hilliard, RB
Would've gotten crazy long odds on Hilliard making the team before camp, but he looks like a different player, and is clearly second in the picking order behind Lamar Miller. He is making the team. Jonathan Grimes and Alfred Blue are on notice.
38. Akeem Hunt, RB
Many will put Hunt on notice, too, but if they hadn't drafted Tyler Ervin, I think Hunt would be a lock to make this team. The two are very similar. So do you cut Hunt or Grimes (or Blue)? Well, I will say that Hunt is the only one who has an elite trait (speed). The other two are just guys. Honestly, I feel like if they cut Grimes, he will always be sitting there waiting to be picked back up, like a running back booty call. I say keep Hunt.
39. Jay Prosch, FB
I had Prosch getting cut loose in my last version, but he did a ton of good things in the Saints game. He's back in.
40. Cecil Shorts, WR
Toughest cut down is at WR. I have Shorts in here now, but it's a total coin flip between him and Keith Mumphrey.
41. Stephen Anderson, TE
A total specialist as tight ends go, pretty much a third down guy, but if he can get open two or three times a game, that may be enough to make the team as the third tight end.
42. Jeff Adams, G/T
I have no idea on the offensive line right now after the first nine. Adams is a guy they've kept before. Hell, he was a starter this time last year. I think there will be more names added to that position group with injuries such a major concern right now. For now, rolling with the nine locks and Adams.
43. Brandon Dunn, DT/DE
44. Devon Still, DE
This is the position where the Texans are most likely to be cut-down time scavengers.
45. Brian Peters, LB
Big forced fumble early in the Saints game reinforces his importance on special teams.
46. Max Bullough, LB
Akeem Dent, it's been real.
47. Tony Wahsington, Jr., OLB
Another position where they'll have their eyes open.
48. Charles James, CB
James has proven to be more than just a special teams guy in camp. He's made plays on defense, too, including a pick of Drew Brees in practice with the Saints last week.
49. Eddie Pleasant, S
50. Antonio Allen, S
51. K.J. Dillon, S
Pleasant has a chance to be this generation's Tim Jamison, where he just hangs around every year, and before you know it, he's like the fourth-longest tenured guy on the team. Dillon makes his first appearance in the 53, by the way.
52. Nick Novak, K
Novak had a good week of practice, a great game against the Saints, and Ka'Imi Fairbairn missed some kicks against the Saints and has been banged up. Also, Novak wound up in concussion protocol after the Saints game, and you just gotta respect a kicker who winds up in "the protocol."
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So now, what do we do with the all-important final spot? It comes down to, for now, a fifth tailback (Grimes, Blue), a sixth wide receiver (Mumphrey, Josh Lenz, Wendell Williams), any number of offensive linemen or defensive lineman, or another defensive back who can run down on special teams.
53. Brandon Weeden, QB
When in doubt, I'll assume O'Brien doesn't want to have to go through quarterback triage again like the last two seasons if/when injuries hit.
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.