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Monday, August 11, 2014
Houston Texans' projected roster

By Tania Ganguli

Examining the Houston Texans' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Keenum is the second-stringer, but the Texans had so few plays offensively in their first preseason game that it's hard to really get a feel for where Savage and Keenum stand. Fitzpatrick had to play the entire first half in order to get enough reps for coach Bill O'Brien to feel comfortable taking him out.

RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACKS (4)

Andre Brown didn't get any carries against the Cardinals and has apparently slipped to fifth on the depth chart. Grimes leapfrogged him as soon as he returned off the non-football injury list and was one of the few bright spots in that first preseason game. O'Brien said Brown's lack of playing time was a function of the Texans' plan for the order of their running backs. Foster is still hurt, but the plan was to start Grimes, then play Blue, then Dennis Johnson and then Brown.

RECEIVERS (5)

Mike Thomas was another rare bright spot for the Texans' offense on Saturday night. He was instrumental in the drive just before halftime during which the Fitzpatrick-led Texans started moving the ball. Had that drive ended in a score instead of an interception, the game might have been shaded much differently.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

I'm keeping an eye on Anthony Denham here. He's an undrafted rookie tight end who had a lot to work on when he arrived at camp, but has also learned a lot. If the Texans don't keep four tight ends, that could be good news for someone like EZ Nwachukwu in the receiving corps.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Kupper struggled in his preseason debut. I wouldn't be surprised to see Su'a-Filo, the Texans' second-round pick, overtake him on the depth chart. The Texans are thin at guard, especially with Brandon Brooks still on the non-football injury list.

DEFENSIVE LINE (5)

Nix is now known to be recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, which calls into question whether he'll be healthy for the Texans' season opener. I could see Ricardo Mathews being added to this list in order to give the Texans enough depth at nose tackle.

LINEBACKERS (9)

Clowney showed off both his talent and his inexperience in the Texans' first preseason game, a perfectly natural position for a player playing linebacker for the first time. Brian Cushing might be close to returning to practice, which is excellent news for the Texans. Whitney Mercilus saw plenty of playing time on Saturday, but seems to have slipped down the depth chart. I still stand by my prediction from OTAs in which i had Tuggle and Cushing inside with Reed and Clowney outside.

CORNERBACKS (6)

Harris struggled a little bit against the Arizona Cardinals -- not that that's an easy group to cover. What we'll look for there is improvement as the preseason progresses. Everybody defensive back had some rough moments in Arizona, and of course with the position those moments get magnified.

SAFETIES (5)

Rather than splitting this group into free and strong safeties, these guys are learning to play on the right or left side in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's system. They all have to learn free and strong safety, just another example of the emphasis on versatility around here these days.

SPECIALISTS (3) 

Remember how I said we'd learn more about the kicking competition this week? Well, I take it back. Randy Bullock kicked off to start the game, and then took a nap, I assume. Rookie Chris Boswell did some punting, but the Texans never got in the position to have either of their kickers kick an extra point or a field goal during that 32-0 loss.