The Houston Texans trimmed their roster down to 80 players earlier this week, per league rules, and the continuing theme is that Nick Caserio is cleaning out all of the old, fairly useless furniture from the Bill O'Brien Era. The first round of cuts a week ago saw 2020 fifth round pick WR Isaiah Coulter sent packing, and on Monday, the Texans cut loose 2019 third rounder TE Kahale Warring, and on Tuesday traded 2020 fourth rounder CB John Reid to the Seahawks.
This time a year ago, Reid was getting plaudits as the most advanced rookie in the five-man 2020 Texans rookie class, and now he's moving across the country to a new team. There's your proof, as if you needed it, that in the NFL, when there is a change in upper management, life can come at you pretty fast.
So now the Super champs come to town for the third and final preseason game this Saturday night, and it sounds like both teams are going to play their starters in the first half of this game. This will be the real test, as real as preseason can get, as to just how real or phony the Texans' 2-0 preseason record is. It should be a fun night at the stadium.
It also serves as the backdrop for what will be the biggest roster purge of the preseason, the drop from 80 players to 53 players coming next week. We will do one more roster prediction AFTER the Tampa Bay game, but as of right now, here is my prediction at the 53-man roster that will break camp for Week 1 on September 12:
QUARTERBACK (3): Tyrod Taylor, David Mills, Veteran QB Not Yet On The Team
I still choose to believe that Nick Caserio will wake up at some point and realize that third stringer Jeff Driskel is not a suitable solution as a backup quarterback to Taylor and Mills. Also, I'm guessing that Deshaun Watson will be parked on the Commissioner's Exempt List before the start of the regular season. We shall see.
RUNNING BACK (4): Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead, Buddy Howell
Since last week's prediction, I replaced David Johnson with Burkhead, sho got some quality reps against the Cowboys. Johnson didn't see the football, and he's also looked the least spry of all the backs in camp. The only thing that would keep him on the roster at this point is that his $4 million salary is fully guaranteed.
WIDE RECEIVER (5): Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Chris Conley, Keke Coutee, Anthony Miller
I have Miller on here, but I could see him being immediately placed on the injured reserve list after roster cutdowns to add another receiver, like say, Chris Moore. (NOTE: Miller has to be on the 53-man roster after cutdowns, if the team wants him on the type of injured reserve list where you can bring a player off of IR.)
TIGHT END (3): Jordan Akins, Pharaoh Brown, Brevin Jordan
One of the easiest position groups to predict, at least at the top three spots. Anthony Auclair and Ryan Izzo are among the last few guys I end up cutting from the 53-man roster every time I do this damn exercise.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, Justin Britt, Max Scharping, Charlie Heck, Jordan Steckler, Justin McCray, Cole Toner, Geron Christian
Amazingly, in a position group with nine guys, I am keeping the same nine as last time around. The big variable will be whether or not Marcus Cannon or Lane Taylor (or both) return from the PUP list anytime soon. Time is running out for both to make an impression, particularly Cannon, who has a big salary cap hit and hasn't played football in nearly two years, as he opted out for COVID last season.
DEFENSIVE LINE (10): Maliek Collins, Ross Blacklock, Jaleel Johnson, Roy Lopez, Charles Omenihu, Whitney Mercilus, Jacob Martin, Jon Greenard, DeMarcus Walker, Jordan Jenkins
LINEBACKER (5): Zach Cunningham, Christian Kirksey, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Garrett Wallow
Both the defensive linemen and linebackers are the same group as last 53-man prediction. Nothing to see here, although I still feel like his guaranteed salary is all that's keeping Whitney Mercilus on the team, for now.
CORNERBACK (6): Bradley Roby, Terrance Mitchell, Desmond King, Vernon Hargreaves, Shyheim Carter, Ka'Dar Hollman
Some change at the back end of the depth chart here, as Carter replaces Tremon Smith, and Hollman gets added, as Caserio traded a 7th round pick to the Packers for him on Tuesday. Carter and Smith couldn't have had more opposite nights against the Cowboys. Carter had a pick and a deflected pass that turned into a pick. Smith had two pass interference penalties.
SAFETY (4): Justin Reid, Eric Murray, Lonnie Johnson, A.J. Moore
No changes here from last time. The safeties have been solid this preseason.
SPECIALISTS (4): Jon Weeks, Cameron Johnston, Ka'imi Fairbairn, Andre Roberts
I have no idea what to make of Roberts not playing a single snap these first two games. He is either getting the most preferential treatment of any veteran on the team, or he's injured. I'll leave him on here, because they guaranteed him $2.5 million, but this is a weird situation.
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