CAMP COUNTDOWN

Cody Stoots: A first, way-too-early look at the Texans' potential 53-man opening day roster

Kareem Jackson, Tyrann Mathieu and Aaron Colvin should see plenty of action. Photo by Edward Clarke

A summer tradition in the same vein of Nathan's hot dog eating contest and forgetting to reapply sunscreen, it is time for way-too- early roster projections. Taking into account the offseason and the circumstances surrounding the players I take a stab at what the 53-man roster should look like on Sept. 1. 

Quarterbacks - 2

Deshaun Watson

Brandon Weeden

Analysis: The options behind these two are not good. At all. Joe Webb had a red jersey in the offseason workouts so he is competing with Stephen Morris for the final roster spot. Neither are worthy of investment long-term. There doesn't seem to be a reason to keep a third quarterback beyond the worry of injury to Watson or Weeden. This team will live in the margins and using this roster spot on another position is more useful. 

Running Backs - 4

Lamar Miller

D'Onta Foreman

Alfred Blue

Troymaine Pope

Analysis: Tyler Ervin is gone because Ervin didn't establish himself last season at running back, pass catching or special teams. Brian Gaine isn't the man who drafted him but he could be the man who discovered the next undrafted helper for this team. Pope had some significant reps in minicamp and has some wiggle and burst to him. Just don't fall down on first touch and he's on his way to beating out Ervin. Foreman's injury is more concerning than most let on but if he is bouncing back like Watson is with his injury then the Texans will have an interesting rushing attack. 

Fullback - 1

Jay Prosch

Analysis: He played 13.2 percent of snaps last year. So, he's here, well, to do whatever fullbacks do in 2018. 

Wide Receiver - 5

DeAndre Hopkins

Will Fuller

Keke Coutee

Bruce Ellington

Chris Thompson

Analysis: Brian Gaine didn't draft Braxton Miller and so there is no attachment to him and Miller has shown little in his time with the Texans. Ellington did enough to be the other slot presence with Coutee and Thompson has special teams talent Miller and other wideouts haven't displayed. I wanted to put Sammie Coates but he's just a veteran name, not a presence to make the team. Though training camp could have the opportunity for him to earn a spot over the younger and smaller Thompson. Vyncint Smith is a key practice squad name. 

Tight Ends - 4

Ryan Griffin

Stephen Anderson

Jordan Akins

Jordan Thomas

Analysis: This position has been as affected by injuries in recent years as the quarterback position. Ryan Griffin has missed 16 regular season games in the past three seasons and C.J. Fiedorowicz is gone due to injury. Stephen Anderson got shaken up a few times last year. Akins and Thomas are Gaine selections so they're both making it in a spot where you can squeeze an extra skill player in. 

Tackles - 3

Julie'n Davenport

Seantrell Henderson

Martinas Rankin

Analysis: Versatility at guard means just three tackles make it. This is not a strong group at all with a second-year starter, an oft-injured starter, and a rookie. Rankin's injury could land someone else in the mix. Kendall Lamm could be that name. Oh boy. Jaryd Jones-Smith is a name to watch in the preseason but likely has the limitations that will land him on the practice squad for his first year in the NFL. 

Guards - 4

Zach Fulton

Senio Kelemete

Kyle Fuller

Chad Slade

Analysis: Fuller was an afterthought last year heading into cuts and made the team. Someone in the offensive meeting room likes him so he makes it here. Slade is a little versatile and has been around so he gets the veteran nod over David Quessenberry. Quessenberry has a great story but unless he outperforms Slade he will have his time with the Texans draw to close. The team promoted Slade last year before him when there was an open spot. Using that as an indication, Slade is the fourth man here. 

Center - 2

Nick Martin

Greg Mancz

Analysis: Martin and Mancz are the guys here and the only options unless somehow Fulton and Martin switch spots. Martin is recovering from injury but should be a full go. If the Texans are going to gel and solidify the offensive line he will need to start living up to the potential of a high second round pick. 

Offense (25)

Defensive End - 5

J.J. Watt

Christian Covington

Joel Heath

Brandon Dunn

Angelo Blackson

Analysis: Obviously Watt is the key to this unit impressing on any level this year. Familiarity is the priority here over talent. That isn't always a bad thing. Covington seemed like he had things clicking before he got hurt last year. Heath and Dunn have been around for a while. Blackson is around surely because they believe he can push Heath or Dunn. 

Defensive Tackle - 2

D.J. Reader

Carlos Watkins

Analysis: The only two options here that make any sense. Reader has a tough task, but if Watt and Mercilus are healthy he should end up showcasing a jump in production and flashes. Watkins may only be a rotation player but if he makes the most of his reps his value as a mid-to-late round pick will be displayed. 

Outside Linebacker - 4

Jadaveon Clowney

Whitney Mercilus

Duke Ejiofor

Brennan Scarlett

Analysis: We all know Clowney is a monster talent and this is just a way to list him in the programs. He is a do-it-all for the Texans. It will be interesting to see if Romeo Crennel uses him more like he was used last year or more from a couple of years ago when Crennel was calling the shots. Whitney Mercilus might be one of the most important players on this team as he is the most consistent pass rusher. Ejiofor has some catching up to do as he recovers from injury. Scarlett might be in danger if he doesn't have a good camp. Peter Kalambayi could push for the roster spot but if not he should see himself on the practice squad. 

Inside Linebacker - 4

Benardrick McKinney

Zach Cunningham

Dylan Cole

Josh Keyes

Analysis: McKinney and the two rookies were impressive last season in Brian Cushing's absence. They will be asked to impress the same this season. Brian Peters is a notable omission here. There is a new special teams sheriff in town and being the special teams ace on one of the worst units in football likely means it is time to move on from Peters for someone else. 

Cornerbacks - 6

Johnathan Joseph

Aaron Colvin

Kevin Johnson

Jermaine Kelly

Johnson Bademosi

Dee Virgin

Analysis: Joseph and Johnson are clearly the outside guys with Colvin moving around as the slot guy or matching up in certain situations outside. He isn't just a slot guy. Bademosi is the special teams ace so don't expect to see him here. Kelly and Virgin are the last two guys to make the roster. I put Virgin because he has been around the team and Kelly has physical tools to help on special teams. 

Safeties - 4

Tyrann Mathieu

Kareem Jackson

Justin Reid

Treston Decoud

Analysis: Kareem Jackson's move became official recently. Decoud moved earlier this offseason from corner to here. He is a former draft pick, but again not from Gaine. I believe him to have the best makeup between him, Cory Moore and Kurtis Drummond. The notable item from this group if they are it is it would be four totally new fulltime safeties for the Texans. 

Specialists - 3

Shane Lechler

Ka'imi Fairbairn

Jon Weeks

Analysis: No surprise here. 

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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