Predicting the Texans roster ahead of Preseason Week 1

2019 Houston Texans 53-man prediction

2019 Houston Texans 53-man prediction
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The Houston Texans will kick off their preseason slate Thursday in Green Bay against the Packers. I didn't head north to face the balmy Wisconsin heat for the Texans' two joint practices against the Cheeseheads, before their Thursday night showdown.

Despite not seeing the last couple of practices, I feel like I have a good feel for where the roster is as of this moment. I've decided to lay out my first prediction for what the Texans' final 53-man roster might look like, once the rosters cuts are finished, before the kickoff to the regular season.

It's worth noting that injuries will happen and the team is most likely to make roster additions via trade, claiming guys as they are waived and/or signing guys off the street. This article should serve as a simple exercise in letting you know, based off of my sole observations, where I believe the roster stands as the Houston Texans enter Preseason Week 1.

53 -man roster

K - Ka'imi Fairbairn

Not enough is made out of how great of an addition Fairbairn has been. The kid is golden.

P - Bryan Anger

Trevor Daniel may be the safer pick here, but I like the boom or bust of Anger. I believe Anger has the bigger leg, but Daniel is more consistent and safe. Brad Seely turned the Texans' special teams into a Top 10 unit in his first season. In a game of inches, I could see Houston going with the guy that can swing the field.

LS - Jon Weeks

He plays a position that isn't the most glamorous and that's the only reason that he's not a household name.

QB - Deshaun Watson / AJ McCarron / Joe Webb

Watson is king, AJ has been a pleasant surprise (assuming the injury that saw him leave joint practices isn't severe) and Webb is a value third string quarterback that sticks due to his ability to play specials.

RB - Lamar Miller / Damarea Crockett / Karan Higdon / Cullen Gillaspia / Taiwan Jones

Lamar is the stalwart that actually looks quicker than in his past, if you can believe it. Crockett looks to impress with his size, blended with patience, vision and instincts. Higdon, another undrafted running back like Crockett, brings a stoutness and ability to get north and south quickly with great balance. Gillaspia brings the fullback position back into the fold and gives the offense even more versatility. Taiwan Jones gives the position return ability and all around special teams coverage. Jones is also another veteran, despite limited carries in his career. Overall, this is a young running back group outside of Miller and Jones.

NOTE: I'd be surprised if this is the roster come week 1 as I expect the Texans to sign, trade or claim another running back that's not on the current roster.

WR - DeAndre Hopkins / Will Fuller / Keke Coutee / Vyncint Smith / Tyron Johnson

DeAndre Carter has struggled to get healthy. In his absence, the young guys, Smith, Johnson and Steven Mitchell Jr. have stepped up. Keeping five running backs and mainly, Taiwan Jones, makes Carter's spot disappear. I couldn't get Mitchell onto the roster, but he's right there in the running with Smith and Johnson. Starting the year on the practice squad will be most likely for Mitchell and it gives the Texans insurance for injury or even struggles from the other young wideouts.

TE - Darren Fells / Jordan Thomas / Jordan Akins / Kahale Warring

It's hard to keep four tight ends, but that's what the Texans need due to their talent at the position and the versatility of the unit. Fells gives an offensive line with issues, extra protection. Thomas is that hybrid weapon that can inline block, along with move the chains and become a red zone threat. Akins is a move tight end that gives Watson another weapon in the passing game. Warring is developmental with a nice upside. While he may not factor in a lot in his rookie season, his status as a third round pick and future potential prevents the Texans from trying to slide him to the practice squad as he would be quickly picked up in the waiver process.

OL - Matt Kalil / Tytus Howard / Nick Martin / Zach Fulton / Seantrel Henderson / Max Scharping / Greg Mancz / Julien Davenport / Martinas Rankin / Roderick Johnson

Yes, 10 offensive lineman. Quantity over quality, I guess. The guy that will draw the most wide eyes is Johnson. It was a struggle to pick between Senio Kelemete and Roderick Johnson. Houston has a bigger issue at offensive tackle than on the interior in my opinion. Johnson has shown flashes and with Henderson and Davenport as the right tackle and swing tackle ahead of him, I believe it's worth keeping him around for a long season in the case that Henderson and Davenport either struggle or get bit by the injury bug.

DL - JJ Watt / Jadeveon Clowney / DJ Reader / Angelo Blackson / Charles Omenihu / Brandon Dunn / Carlos Watkins

It's difficult to leave Joel Heath off of the 53-man roster. He's an NFL player and could easily beat out Watkins for the seventh spot among the defensive line. Watkins is in year three and was always a three-year project. I wouldn't cut bait with him too early.

LB - Whitney Mercilus / Benardrick McKinney / Zach Cunningham / Dylan Cole / Brennan Scarlett / Peter Kalambayi

Scarlett could find competition in the form of a player cut from another team as they fight to get their own roster to 53. Kalambayi was a freak on special teams last season and has shown up a few times in training camp at the linebacker position.

CB - Johnathan Joseph / Bradley Roby / Aaron Colvin / Johnson Bademosi / Lonnie Johnson Jr / Briean Boddy-Calhoun

Bademosi is that special teams stud for the cornerback group and it'd be a surprise if he's not around, especially due to the lack of talent at the position that would force him off. Boddy-Calhoun needs to be on alert, even after making the 53-man roster, as the Texans will have to upgrade the position at some point. Houston needs to look for superior cornerback talent via the trade market but could settle for a roster cutdown addition.

S - Justin Reid / Tashaun Gipson / Jahleel Addae / AJ Moore

As weak as the cornerback position is, Houston really has replaced the talent at safety. Reid is a veteran, despite the fact that he's only going into year two of his career and was a third round pick. The Gipson and Addae additions were solid. Moore has been a ballhawk in training camp and can leave a mark on special teams. The Texans would be wise to play a lot of "big dime" this season as opposed to the regular dime formation that puts four cornerbacks on the field with two safeties. They're better equipped to play three safeties along with three cornerbacks in a "big dime" look.

First 5 Off:

1) Joel Heath

2) Senio Kelemete

3) Jerell Adams

4) Steven Mitchell Jr

5) DeAndre Carter

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Coogs beat the Sooners, 87-85. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images.

Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.

Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.

“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”

Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”

L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.

Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.

Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.

“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”

Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.

Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.

“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”

Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.

Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

UP NEXT:

Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

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