The Texans play their final, and least meaningful preseason game Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings. John Beck and Case Keenum will be the only two quarterbacks to play in a battle for the right to get cut and possibly re-signed to the practice squad; the game itself just doesn't carry any intrigue. However, the game will be the final opportunity for players on the bubble of possibly getting cut, to impress the coaches and make the roster.
The Texans made their first round of cuts on Monday to get the roster down to 75; the first wave of drops are hardly ever controversial and are usually pretty obvious moves. Players cut during this first wave were Thomas Austin, Omar Gaither, Brett Hartmann, Bryant Johnson, Mario Louis, Davin Meggett, Nick Mondek, Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, Derrell Smith, Kasey Studdard, and Torri Williams. The Texans also put Daryl Sharpton on the PUP list (eligible to return after week six) and rookie kicker Randy Bullock on the injured reserve ending his season.
Of those cuts, only a few caused me to slightly raise an eyebrow, those being Studdard, Hartmann, and Smith. Kasey Studdard has been on the roster since 2006 when he was their 6th round pick and he knows the offensive system really well having started 14 games during his time here. However the Texans drafted a couple of interior offensive lineman in the middle rounds this year, making Studdard the odd man out. With Hartmann, he wasn't great last season, his net punt average was too low, but I thought they'd put him on the PUP list and possibly go with the younger, cheaper option when he was ready mid-season. Finally on Smith, I don't think their true fullback will have much of a role on the team this year because they like the versatility that James Casey provides, but I thought Smith had more long-term potential than Norris and just needed a little more time to develop after changing positions from linebacker this off-season. All that being said on those three players, none of them would have been difference makers and there is never any reason for concern over players cut during this first wave.
The Texans will make their second round of cuts on Friday to get the final roster down to 53 players. Most of the spots will be pretty easy to determine, but they'll have to make a few tough decisions at receiver, with the swing tackle/guard on the offensive line, and at cornerback. Before the Texans make their final decision, here's my shot at predicting their 53-man roster for the start of the 2012 NFL season.
QB (2) - Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates
RB (3) - Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Justin Forsett
WR (6) - Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Keshawn Martin, Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey, Trindon Holliday
TE (2) - Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham
FB (2) - James Casey, Moran Norris
OT (4) - Duane Brown, Rashad Butler, Derek Newton, Andrew Gardner
OG (4) - Wade Smith, Antoine Caldwell, Brandon Brooks, Shelley Smith
C (2) - Chris Myers, Ben Jones
DE (4) - J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, Tim Jamison, Jared Crick
DT (2) - Shaun Cody, Earl Mitchell
OLB (5) - Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, Whitney Mercilus, Bryan Braman, Jesse Nading
ILB (4) - Brian Cushing, Bradie James, Tim Dobbins, Mister Alexander
CB (6) - Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Brice McCain, Brandon Harris, Roc Carmichael, Sherrick McManis
SS (2) - Danieal Manning, Quintin Demps
FS (2) - Glover Quin, Troy Nolan
K (1) - Shayne Graham
P (1) - Donnie Jones
LS (1) - Jonathan Weeks
PUP - Darryl Sharpton
IR - Randy Bullock