Cody Stoots: Latest Texans 53-man roster projection

Cody Stoots: Latest Texans 53-man roster projection
Lamar Miller heads up the running back group. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Texans have one preseason game to play but if they had to make the cuts today and get to 53 players this is how I see it shaking out. 

Quarterbacks - 3

Deshaun Watson

Brandon Weeden

Joe Webb

Analysis: Joe Webb is making it as a quarterback but he is here because he can do a lot of different things. He can help on special teams whereas a typical third quarterback would be inactive or useless when the other two quarterbacks are healthy. Webb really earned this because of his versatility and showcasing it during the preseason. One of the fun stories in camp. 

Running Backs - 3

Lamar Miller

Alfred Blue

Troymaine Pope

Analysis: D'Onta Foreman will start the season on the physically unable to perform list unless he miraculously gets healthy. Alfred Blue doesn't do anything spectacular but the current staff seems to like him for special teams and trust him to do the basics of being a running back. Troymaine Pope is a pass-catcher and has seen some return action. Tyler Ervin has gotten a ton of reps as a returner despite showcasing little as a ball carrier but with the abilities of the pass catchers someone else can do what he has done. 

Fullback - 1

Jay Prosch

Analysis: For a little time I thought the Texans would finally go without the archaic position of fullback. I can't see Bill O'Brien really pulling the trigger this year. He played 13.2 percent of snaps last year. So, he's here, well, to do whatever fullbacks do in 2018. 

Wide Receiver - 6

DeAndre Hopkins

Will Fuller

Bruce Ellington  

Keke Coutee

Sammie Coates

Braxton Miller

Analysis: Keke Coutee's injury opened the door for the Texans to need to keep six wideouts. Sammie Coates is on this team. He played his way onto the team and is the lone true backup at outside wide receiver. Braxton Miller has been up and down throughout the preseason but his versatility to help outside and inside and potentially on returns earns him the spot until Coutee is fully ready to play. Bruce Ellington is on the team without a doubt and it would be a shock and mistake to let him go. 

Tight Ends - 3

Ryan Griffin

Jordan Thomas  

Jordan Akins

Analysis: One of the easiest calls on the team. These three have separated themselves from all the other tight ends. Jordan Thomas seems to be slightly ahead of Jordan Akins. 

Tackles - 4

Julie'n Davenport

Seantrell Henderson

Martinas Rankin

Kendall Lamm

Analysis: Kendell Lamm is making this team because Martinas Rankin missed a few weeks with this injury and the team can't afford that much inexperience as the swing tackle. Seantrell Henderson's irregular health makes this tackle situation one that requires bodies with experience. 

Guards - 4

Zach Fulton

Senio Kelemete

David Quessenberry

Chad Slade

Analysis: Chad Slade can help at tackle and David Quessenberry has played his way onto the roster. Kyle Fuller didn't do enough to make the roster considering both of the team's centers can help at guard in a pinch. The team held Fuller over from last year but he didn't outplay those in front of him. 

Center - 2

Nick Martin

Greg Mancz

Analysis: Easy decisions here. There wasn't much competition. 

Offense (26)

Defensive Line - 6

J.J. Watt

Christian Covington

D.J. Reader  

Angelo Blackson  

Carlos Watkins  

Brandon Dunn

Analysis: Joel Heath and Brandon Dunn are really fighting each other for this spot and this likely is a tough cut as both can help out a team and deserve a spot on a roster. Dunn has been more consistent but Heath has more upside. This will be a tough decision and don't be surprised to see both of them end up making the team at the expensive of another position. 

Outside Linebacker - 4

Jadaveon Clowney

Whitney Mercilus

Duke Ejiofor

Brennan Scarlett

Analysis:  Jadeveon Clowney gets counted as an outside linebacker despite his versatility and ability to help the defensive line. Whitney Mercilus has been out with an injury but should be ready to go soon. Duke Ejiofor flashed early but consistency is going to be key with him. Brennan Scarlett has improved over last year. 

Inside Linebacker - 4

Benardrick McKinney

Zach Cunningham

Dylan Cole

Brian Peters

Analysis: Josh Keyes flashed early and likely stayed on the radar but I can't see him making it when there is pressing needs on offense he literally becomes player 54. Brian Peters is back because of experience with the team and his help on special teams. Peters also showed a little when pressed into playing inside linebacker. The other three have been beasts this preseason. 

Cornerbacks - 5

Johnathan Joseph

Aaron Colvin

Kevin Johnson

Johnson Bademosi

Kayvon Webster

Analysis: Dee Virgin couldn't get it done in camp with his opportunities and no other players flashed enough to make the roster over the practice squad. Kevin Johnson should be back soon. Johnson Bademosi has gotten some solid work in the preseason with Johnson's injury but he is here for special teams. The third side of the ball gets better if Kayvon Webster can contribute. He was a special teams player for the Broncos championship team. 

Safeties - 5

Tyrann Mathieu

Kareem Jackson

Justin Reid

Corey Moore

Kurtis Drummond

Analysis: Treston Decoud has a lot of tools but a lack of results that can't justify him being on the roster over Corey Moore and Kurtis Drummond. Moore has plenty of experience, despite getting benched and falling out of favor last year.  Drummond has played well and his experience at safety helps him make the team over Decoud. 

Defense (24)

Specialists - 3

Shane Lechler

Ka'imi Fairbairn

Jon Weeks

Analysis: Almost had an upset here but I just can't see this team going with a young kicker and a young punter. If there was some way to guarantee Trevor Daniel would be on this roster and ready for next year after Lechler likely hangs it up. I'm not wishing he would stub his toe really hard and end up on injured reserve but it wouldn't be the worst result ever. 

Hopeful Practice Squad Signees

WR Vyncint Smith

WR Jester Weah

CB Andre Chachere

CB Jermaine Kelly Jr.

OLB Peter Kalambayi

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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