Wexler: Texans 53-man roster prediction

NFL rosters must be cut to 53 players by Saturday


HOUSTON – The Houston Texans have made their cuts to reach the mandated 75-player limit on Tuesday. The 53-man roster reduction must be made by Saturday. 

Here's my prediction of what the initial 53-man roster will look like.


3 QB       Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Tom Savage

No other quarterbacks were brought to training camp. There was no competition to see who would remain on the roster, Savage will be kept as part of the 53-man roster because he would be claimed if he were waived.

5 RB/FB  Arian Foster, Alfred Blue, Johnathan Grimes, Kenny Hilliard, Jay Prosch (tough cut: Chris Polk) 

Arian Foster is far enough along in his rehabilitation and recovery following his groin/hernia surgery, he is not expected to be placed on injured reserve with designation to return. Alfred Blue will be the starter, with Grimes and Polk battling for the spot as the receiving option, change of pace back. Hilliard is the so-called bruiser of the bunch and the sixth round draft pick likely sticks. If released, it's likely he would be claimed before the Texans could sign him to their practice squad.

5 WR      DeAndre Hopkins, Nate Washington, Cecil Shorts, Jaelen Strong, Keith Mumphrey (tough cuts: EZ Nwachukwu, D. Johnson, C. Worthy)

While the competition was very good through the top eight receivers, there really may not be a spot for NFL-caliber players. The top five are set with Hopkins, the two veterans (Shorts and Washington) and the two draftees (Strong and Mumphrey). Nwachukwu and Johnson will be in the NFL this season, I believe it just may not be with the Texans. Worthy is likely the fastest player the Texans have and has ability as a return man. He is a strong candidate for the practice squad.

3 TE        Garrett Graham, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin

There was never a competition for a roster spot among the tight ends. The three incumbents had those spots from the get-go and the team never had plans to carry a fourth tight end. Khari Lee showed lots of promise and was traded Wednesday for a 2017 sixth round draft pick. Mike McFarland and Anthony Denham were both waived/injured.

9 OL       Derek Newton, Jeff Adams, Ben Jones, Brandon Brooks, Duane Brown, Chris Clark, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Greg Mancz, Kendall Lamm (tough cut: Chad Slade, James Ferentz) 

The top seven became locks when the Texans traded for tackle Chris Clark earlier in the week. Clark could be one of the starting tackles early in the season if Brown's thumb injury is not healed. Youngsters Mancz and Lamm have both impressed, and Lamm got a lot of work at tackle in the third preseason game against the Saints. He may kept as a precaution pending Brown's availability. Also, with Su'a-Filo getting limited work with the first unit in camp and then also being injured through the majority of camp, the Texans likely need to keep a ninth lineman initially.


6 DL        Jared Crick, Vince Wilfork, J.J. Watt, Jeoffrey Pagan, Louis Nix, Christian Covington

The Texans have a stout group here and a perfect mix of veterans and youth. Pagan and Nix have been fighting injuries most of their time in Houston, but have talent. Covington could prove to be a very valuable player, especially for a sixth round pick.

4 OLB     Whitney Mercilus, John Simon, Jadeveon Clowney, Lynden Trail (tough cut: Kourtnei Brown)

This is a position the Texans almost certainly be focusing on the waiver wires for players cut from other teams. Mercilus and Simon will get the bulk of the work early in the season until Clowney gets worked up to full speed. Trail is such an intriguing prospect, I believe the Texans will have onto him. Brown has made a bunch of big plays with a pair of sacks, an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery, but has also made more than his share of mistakes.

4 ILB       Brian Cushing, Mike Mohammed, Akeem Dent, Benardrick McKinney (tough cuts: Justin Tuggle, Max Bullough)

Cushing looks more like the old Cushing than he has since his rookie season. Mohammed is the most underrated player on the entire team and should be the other starter. Dent has value as a veteran and special team contributor. McKinney gets the nod and should improve quickly once he returns to full health.

7 CB       Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Kevin Johnson, A.J. Bouye, Darryl Morris, Charles James II, Jumal Rolle 

The Texans only brought seven cornerbacks to camp, once they moved Andre Hal to safety. All seven are NFL talents and James has played himself onto the roster. He's shown versatility, and confidence, and brings incredible, infectious enthusiasm to the team. Keeping seven corners is more than Houston would like to, especially with the obvious emergence of rookie first round draft pick Kevin Johnson. 

4 S          Rahim Moore, Eddie Pleasant, Andre Hal, Quintin Demps (tough cut: Lonnie Ballentine)

It's basically a brand new group for the Texans this season. Pleasant and Hal were both on the team a year ago, but Hal was a rookie reserve cornerback and Pleasant was the fourth safety. Rahim Moore was the big free agent acquisition so expectations are high for him and Demps was signed before the third preseason game and immediately made Stevie Brown expendable. Brown was released just days after Demps was signed. Ballentine is a promising player, but was on injured reserve last season and was not healthy through much of training camp this season.


3 SP        Shane Lechler, Randy Bullock, Jon Weeks

These three were even more set in stone than the quarterbacks. 

My final 53-man prediction will be released on Friday. The Texans must finalize their 53-man roster on Saturday.