Pallilo Points

The Texans play off-Broadway. The Cougars play HARD. The Rockets play the lottery (don't think so, but they better be careful)?

Deshaun Watson takes his act to New York. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texans Saturday play a lousy 4-9 Jets team Saturday now without its leading rusher (Isaiah Crowell) and leading pass catcher (Quincy Enunwa). Then they face a probably Carson Wentz-less Eagles team seeing its Super Bowl championship defense die away. Then the awful Jaguars come to Houston. 12-4 is right there for the Texans, but that will only be enough for the number three seed in the AFC and a Wild Card weekend home game unless the fading Steelers rise up Sunday to knock off the Patriots. That game is in Pittsburgh. The Patriots' final two games are both at home against the Bills and Jets.

With the Patriots losing their game to the Miami Miracle, on one hand you can say the Texans blew a massive opportunity in losing at home to the Colts. On the other hand the Colts were clearly the better team in ending the Texans' nine game winning streak.

The loss to Indy was a reality check. The Texans are a pretty good team, but glaring areas of weakness keep it from being a reeeeally good team. The offensive line is flat lousy in pass protection, though sometimes Deshaun Watson makes it look even worse by holding on to the ball too long. Pending free agent moves in the offseason, one of the Texans' top two draft picks next spring MUST be spent on an offensive lineman, the other on a cornerback (if not on another o-lineman). Even in their zone-heavy scheme, the Texans lack corners who run well enough. If the pass rush isn't raising hell, the secondary is Swiss cheesy. Remember, the Texans have an extra second pick this spring, acquired from Seattle in last year's Duane Brown trade.

If somehow the Texans chump up two of their remaining three games, as long as one of the losses isn't to the Jaguars they still win the AFC South even if the Titans or Colts win out.

Coogs' house

None of the Phi Slama Jama era Houston Cougar basketball teams started a season better than 5-0. Sunday Kelvin Sampson's Coogs go for a Bo Derek (perfect 10, anybody remember Bo?) start. Only UH team ever to open 10-0: the Elvin Hayes-led '67-'68 squad that went 31-0 and along the way beat UCLA in the Game of the Century before the Bruins obliterated the Cougars at the Final Four.

The new Fertitta Center is a modest-sized gem, and currently offers the hands down best sports environment in town. Non-Cougars are never going to embrace UH in big numbers especially not in a major league sports town, so UH's "For the City" slogan doesn't hit the mark. But so what? Drawing more of the Cougar base, plus any outside of it who might have some interest piqued by intensely played quality college basketball is good enough.

Rockets rumors

The Rockets have been vastly less excitement-inducing this season, though James Harden's closing brilliance in a 50 point explosion Thursday night to put away the Lakers was a doozy. Getting back to and then over ,500 is the Rockets' near term goal. A good month of sustained quality play is needed to restore credibility. Chris Paul's overall level of play remains a serious concern. The rumor this week of their interest in Cleveland malcontent J.R. Smith, egads! That would render Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey Desperate Daryl. Morey is trying to recover from his awful offseason, but I can't believe he sees J.R. Smith as worthwhile.

Speaking of Morey's offseason work, the Rockets Saturday gain the right to trade Carmelo Anthony. What a bonanza must await in return!

Astros still armed

Not a great look for the Astros that they tugged on their purse strings while the Tampa Bay Rays of all teams guaranteed Charlie Morton $30 million dollars over the next two years. The Astros did not err. Morton was on balance outstanding in his two Astro seasons but he wore down badly this year, and at 35 years old his arm is a ticking bomb. The Astros should add an established starting pitcher, but even if Jeff Luhnow doesn't, the Collin McHugh/Brad Peacock/Josh James/Framber Valdez quartet isn't an indefensible plan to cover three rotation spots while waiting on elite prospect Forrest Whitley's arrival during the 2019 season. If poor performance/injuries are issues, nothing precludes a notable in-season trade. That Verlander fellow worked out okay a couple of seasons ago. A left handed hitter is the obvious other logical Astros' target.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Pipe down Tony La Russa. Harold Baines making the Baseball Hall of Fame is ridiculous. 2. La Russa also used to lambaste those who dared to believe that Mark McGwire might have been a steroid guy. 3. Best teams in the AFC: Bronze-Patriots Silver-Chargers Gold-Chiefs (but barely post-loser Kareem Hunt).

Predicting the Houston Texans 53-man roster

2019 Texans 53-man roster version 2.0

The Houston Texans have wrapped up their second preseason game. There is still some jockeying over roster spots and I'll take my best educated guesses at who holds those spots as of today.

53 -man roster

Kicker (1)

Ka'imi Fairbairn

Punter (1)

Trevor Daniel

I have my first change on the roster, from my previous 53-man prediction. Early-on, Bryan Anger had the better hang time and bigger leg. On Monday, Bill O'Brien was lending a watchful eye to the punting competition and Anger had a bad case of the yips. It was a bad time for this to happen as Daniel made the most of the situation. Daniel was booming kicks and not just with distance but with an improved hang time to boot.

Long snapper (1)


Jon Weeks

Quarterback (3)

Deshaun Watson

AJ McCarron

Joe Webb

Watson has looked the best he ever has as a pro. He's set for a huge season.

McCarron has missed time of late, but his spot at backup is safe.

Running back (5)

Lamar Miller

Duke Johnson

Damarea Crockett

Cullen Gillaspia

Taiwan Jones

On the first 53-man roster, I mentioned that I'd expect the Texans to bring in someone from the outside to take over the roster spot voided by the waiver of D'Onta Foreman. Enter Duke Johnson.

Damarea Crockett has great vision, patience and instincts, all packed into a 5'11 - 225 pound frame. If anything happened to Lamar Miller this season, Crockett would get a lot of run with Duke Johnson.

Karan Higdon falls off the roster with the addition of Duke Johnson. Higdon gets downhill quick and has great balance, but his vision leaves something to be desired.

While Buddy Howell is a fan favorite after a productive game in the fourth quarter against the Lions in the second preseason game, I still believe that Taiwan Jones is ahead of him. Jones is a veteran that helps on all of the special teams units. Howell is in a tough spot as Higdon is a better running back and Jones is the better option on special teams.

Cullen Gillaspia will also secure a spot on the 53 with his value on special teams and the hope that the Texans can develop him into a lead blocker that will allow Bill O'Brien to give more versatile looks.

Wide receiver (5)

DeAndre Hopkins

Will Fuller

Keke Coutee

DeAndre Carter

Vyncint Smith

DeAndre Carter has come back better than I could have imagined. Carter hit the ground running and not only looks like a veteran in the slot, but an improved veteran at that.

Vyncint Smith gives the Texans insurance for Fuller as he works back to 100%.

Steven Mitchell Jr has looked great in camp and has played well in the preseason games but Houston already has Keke Coutee & DeAndre Carter taking roster spots at the slot position.

Tyron Johnson's speed may not be safe on the practice squad, but he's too raw to carry on the 53-man roster. Johnson has shown alligator arms in both of the team's preseason games to this point. Houston will have to risk, sliding him unto the practice squad.

Tight end (4) 

Darren Fells

Jordan Thomas

Jordan Akins

Jerell Adams

O'Brien doesn't keep four tight ends, but you adjust to your roster and the talent you have. Fells is a great inline blocker that can also move the chains as a big target for Watson.

Akins is ready to take a second year leap and has built great chemistry with his quarterback.

While Jordan Thomas has missed a lot of time in camp, he's working swiftly to catch up. His upside is exponential. He'll be a beast when he reaches his ceiling.

Jerell Adams has shown up every day of camp and deserves a roster spot. The size, speed and athleticism of this tight end group allows O'Brien to keep four as they can contribute on special teams.

Kahale Warring should be an injured reserve stash as he'll need much more time to get caught up with his understanding of this offense.

Offensive line (9)

Matt Kalil

Roderick Johnson

Tytus Howard

Nick Martin

Zach Fulton

Seantrel Henderson

Max Scharping

Senio Kelemete

Martinas Rankin

Kalil will be the starting left tackle for the Texans week one, unless Houston trades for a tackle or Kalil has a setback on the injury front.

Behind, Kalil, Roderick Johnson has been the most consistent tackle in Houston. Roderick can be the swing tackle or step in for Kalil or Henderson if there's an injury.

Zach Fulton showed well at center while Nick Martin was out. Fulton can start at either guard spot as well.

Nick Martin returned on Monday to his position as the starting center.

Seantrel Henderson relies on size and length, even though the technique falls apart at times, he's done a decent job to hold off the pass rush in camp.

Senio Kelemete has garnered credit from his head coach. At this moment, I'd list him among the top eight offensive linemen on the roster.

Martinas Rankin has seemed to be in OB's doghouse this training camp, buried down the depth chart. When I watch Rankin, I don't see a guy that should be cut from the Texans roster. I have him making the roster as the ninth and final offensive lineman.

Greg Mancz doesn't make this projection of the 53-man roster. Due to the injury and how well Fulton has played at center during this camp, Mancz can become expendable. Julien Davenport has never played at an NFL level and I don't believe he has the upside or talent of Rankin.

Defensive line (7)

JJ Watt

Jadeveon Clowney

DJ Reader

Angelo Blackson

Brandon Dunn

Charles Omenihu

Carlos Watkins

I never thought that JJ Watt could get back to a form that was even close to his old self, after only playing in eight games in 2016 and 2017 combined. Not only did he do it in 2018, but he looks even better so far in 2019.

Angelo Blackson is the best kept secret on Houston's defensive line. He won't be a secret any longer, after 2019.

Brandon Dunn keeps Reader fresh without allowing too big of a falloff at the nose.

Charles Omenihu is young but has all of the attributes that you could dream of. He uses great leverage and sheds offensive linemen with ease while driving them back with a reach of seven feet and one and a half inches. He'll only get better as the season goes along.

Carlos Watkins has missed time during camp. It's a big season for him as he enters year three. I believe he's competing with Joel Heath for the last roster spot on the defensive line. Heath deserves to be on an NFL roster, but with Watkins cutting down the baby fat, he looks primed to breakout.

Linebacker (7)

Whitney Mercilus

Benardrick McKinney

Zach Cunningham

Dylan Cole

Brennan Scarlett

Davin Bellamy

Peter Kalambayi

In a contract year and looking fierce, be on the lookout for a big year for Whitney Mercilus.

Dylan Cole looks like a man possessed and ready for his best season to date.

Brennan Scarlett won't "WOW" anyone at first glance, but when you watch the film, you'll be impressed by his effort and motor to run non-stop from the snap to the whistle.

Peter Kalambayi has made a name as a special teamer, but he's shown some playmaking ability on the defense in the preseason in 2019.

Bellamy makes the roster as his explosiveness sticks out, but will need to be more discipline. Houston could upgrade this spot as other teams cut down to 53.

Cornerback (6)

Johnathan Joseph

Bradley Roby

Aaron Colvin

Johnson Bademosi

Lonnie Johnson Jr

Briean Boddy-Calhoun

Bademosi leaves his mark on special teams.

Lonnie is a work in progress, but if called upon, he can jam receivers off the line and agitate passing lanes with his length. Houston will keep safeties around his side of the field when he's playing to provide a safety net.

Boddy-Calhoun has had an up and down camp, but brings some veteran depth to the bottom of the group.

Safety (4) 

Justin Reid

Tashaun Gipson

Jahleel Addae

AJ Moore

Reid, Gipson and Addae are a solid trio that could see themselves on the field together often in "big dime". Due to the lack of cornerback talent and depth on the roster, Houston would be wise to rely on this trio.

AJ Moore made a name on special teams with the Texans, but all camp long, he's been ball-hawking every time he has gotten on the field.

Practice squad

1) Albert Huggins

2) Steven Mitchell Jr

3) Tyron Johnson

4) Karan Higdon

5) Jamal Davis II

6) Chris Johnson

7) Austin Exford

8) Javy Edwards

9) Derrick Baity Jr

10) Xavier Crawford

Noteworthy cuts or IR:

1) Kahale Warring - Injured Reserve

2) Greg Mancz

3) Joel Heath

4) Julien Davenport

5) Buddy Howell

6) Tyrell Adams


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