HOUSTON – The Texans signed center Jimmy Morrissey to the 53-man roster, promoting him from their practice squad as the top backup to new starting center Scott Quessenberry.
The Texans placed veteran center Justin Britt on the reserve-non-football illness list Tuesday after he missed the Denver Broncos game for personal reasons related to football as he contemplates his options. Quessenberry is slated to start his second consecutive game Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Morrissey has experience. The former Las Vegas Raiders seventh-round draft pick played in five games with four starts for the Texans when Britt was sidelined last season with injuries and COVID-19.
“It’s awesome,” Morrissey said inside the locker room after practice. “I’m really happy. There’s one part of me that loves Justin Britt and hopes he and his family are doing great and wish nothing but the best for them, but I’m really excited about the opportunity.
“It’s the next man up mentality, just like Scott says. Two weeks ago, he was the backup. Now, he’s the starter. Now, I’m the backup.”
The Texans replaced Morrissey on the practice squad with offensive lineman Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms. A former Jacksonville Jaguars undrafted free agent from Missouri, Wallace-Simms was signed by the Texans in June and cut during the initial roster cutdown to 53 players on Aug. 30.
He has played in five career NFL games, all with the Jaguars in 2020 and 2021.
A former Pitt walk-on and Burlsworth Trophy award winner, Morrissey was signed off of the Raiders’ practice squad to the Texans’ active roster last season.
Morrissey was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, a four-time all-academic selection and a 47-game starter at Pitt who received the Burlsworth Trophy that goes to the most outstanding college football player who began their career as a walk-on. A 6-foot-4, 305-pounder who was an All-Catholic League and All-City selection in Philadelphia, Morrissey was a preferred walk-on at Pitt over scholarship offers form Lehigh, Bucknell and Colgate. He earned a scholarship after enrolling at Pitt.
“He got playing time last year, a tough player,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said. “When you’ve been around for a long period of time, you know how we do things, what the role entails and that’s the reason why he’s been on our roster. Centers just in general, when you have a guy that can snap, tough football player that can do a lot of the things Jimmy does, they’re a valuable force.
“As we look back on that 69, 70-man roster, we’re going to need everybody. That’s what the guys were told, first cut. A lot of that is coming into play a little bit quicker than maybe we thought.”
The Burlsworth Trophy is named after the late Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Brandon Burlsworth, a former walk-on at Arkansas who earned a scholarship and became a consensus All-American. Burlsworth was killed in a car accident on April 28, 1999 in Alpena, Arkansas 11 days after he was drafted.
“A lot,” Morrissey said of his growth as a player. “Physically, I’m stronger and in better shape than I’ve ever been. Mentally, too. coach (George) Warhop has been awesome, Hal Hunter, too. I feel like I’ve been improving. I’ve taken a big leap since last year.”
Morrissey has been mentored by Britt and other veteran players, including Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Morrissey, standing next to Tunsil, whose locker is next to his.
“My guy,” Morrissey said of Tunsil. “LT always talks about working on his mentals, so I worry about my mentals.”
Tunsil added: “Work on the mentals.”
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and analyst and a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com