The Houston Texans' OTAs are wrapping up today, and we have a somewhat better idea now of what the team will look like than we did when they began.
For instance, we know Dwight Jones won't be on the roster.
We do know Mike Sims-Walker won't, though.
I took a look at things, and I've come up with a potential roster for opening day.
Of course, the team still has mini-camp and training camp—with the associated roster cut-downs—before they make their final decisions.
So I'll revisit this roster after mini-camp and at the beginning of training camp as well as predict the multiple cut-downs after the preseason.
This roster is likely quite different than the final one will be, but that won't stop me from not only choosing 53 players but establishing the starters, the active roster, the Week 1 inactive list and the practice squad.
Quarterback should be the easiest position to choose, but there is still one question to ask: Case Keenum or John Beck?
Beck's best chance is that the team puts Case Keenum on the practice squad. If he can show that he's more ready to go, he could get that third quarterback slot.
Still, I think it will shake out like this:
All 4 remain on the roster. Schaub is supposedly 100% good to go for training camp.
All 4 remain. Schaub has looked good. Keenum and Beck will fight it out Thursday.
Schaub - Yates - Beck
Keenum on the Practice Squad.
Prediction Success: Low. I got the obvious stuff, missed on Beck, who came alive in game 4, and gave Keenum too much credit.
Three out of the five positions are locked in. The whole left side is cemented.
On the right, two positions have starters currently in place, but that could change by the end of the summer.
The big questions are: Who will back up, and where? Will there be a backup center, guard and tackle, or will one player back up two positions?
Duane Brown (Left Tackle)
Wade Smith (Left Guard)
Chris Myers (Center)
Antoine Caldwell (Right Guard)
Rashad Butler (Right Tackle)
Shelley Smith (Guard/Center)
Derek Newton (Tackle)
Ben Jones (Center/Guard)
Nick Mondek, Nathan Menkin, Brandon Brooks, Cody White, Thomas Austin, Andrew Gardner
Kasey Studdard, longtime Texans workhorse lineman, has not been resigned.
Brandon Brooks signed. the last rookie to do so. Will probably have the bench slot assigned to Ben Jones. Jones will probably have Smith's spot. Smith, drafted 6th in 2012, is probably still practice squad eligible due to inactivity & placement on IR. If he plays well, he might still be the backup. If he plays poorly, he will probably be cut outright.
Player not originally listed currently on the roster: Cody Wallace
Kasey Studdard, signed during camp, released. 6th rounder Menkin waived. Newton seems to have won the starting job over Butler; Brooks appears to be backing up Caldwell.
Butler hurt. Menkin, White, Wallace released.
Shelley Smith waived. 1 spot open on practice squad, so if he clears waivers, he could make it there.
Prediction Success: Fair
I was right about Caldwell and Shelley Smith. Wrong about Butler, even before his injury. Brooks has struggled but obviously is still on the team. Gardner stayed on, possibly due to Butler's injury.
Probably the only position that is more locked in than quarterback this year is running back.
I wouldn't have said this a week ago, but the new signing probably settles in that third spot.
Then again, fullback seems straightforward, but only because of the lack of options currently with the team. I think this would be the only time the team has gone into training camp with only two options at fullback, so I wonder if they will sign somebody.
Going back to 2009, they had Vonta Leach, James Casey and Boomer Grigsby. Last year, they had Lawrence Vickers, James Casey, and Zac Pauga.
Arian Foster (Halfback)
James Casey (Fullback)
Ben Tate (Halfback)
Jason Ford (Fullback)
Justin Forsett (Halfback)
Javarris Williams, Jonathan Grimes, Davin Meggett
Derrick Ward, who was an excellent backup two years ago and little-used last year, has not been re-signed.
Jason Ford and Javarris Williams were cut. Moran Norris was signed. Derrell Smith, formerly a LB, is officially a FB on the roster.
Davin Meggett and Derrell Smith cut.
Grimes cut, Norris Cut, Tyler Clutts acquired in trade.
Grimes on Practice Squad
Prediction Success: Fair
I called the easy stuff, and the guy they kept at FB (and the guy he replaced) weren't around when I made the call.
Tight end would be a lot more stable if James Casey wasn't acting primarily as a fullback. On many teams, the Texans' tight ends would seem like more than enough, but if the Texans want to run three tight end sets and have depth, they look a little thin.
The loss of Joel Dreessen, one of the tough but unavoidable losses this year, could hurt.
(The decision between Brock and Supernaw was all but a coin flip, as there isn't much coming out of OTAs on either one.)
Brock, Supernaw cut.
Supernaw on Practice Squad
Prediction Success: Fail
They both got cut! And I thought I had a winner...
For most people, this is the big question mark on the team. The first two positions are rock solid, but the rest are wide open. Andre Johnson is one of the best in the league, and Kevin Walter has been the No. 2 receiver on the team for years.
Tied into this position, a couple of receivers are prospects to supplant Jacoby Jones as a return man, as well.
Juaquin Iglesias, Trindon Holliday, Jerrell Jackson, Mario Louis
Dwight Jones quit but could theoretically return for mini-camp or training camp ready to go.
Bryant Johnson provided some help last year but has not been re-signed.
David Anderson was brought back briefly last season and could come back to play the slot or sit the bench.
Jones is officially Reserve/DNR. Team worked out Bryant Johnson and Roy Williams.
Bryant Johnson, signed for cap, cut, along with Mario Louis.
Jackson injured, waived. Maehl and Iglesias cut.
Maehl on Practice Squad
Prediction Success: Fair
I picked Maehl over Holliday, and apparently put the 3 other young guys in reverse order.
This is another solidly established position from the perspective of starters.
The three starters from last year are all returning, and it was certainly not a position of weakness. J.J. Watt has emerged as the star of the position group.
The backups are less well-solidified. The team hasn't lost the old backups, but there are new possibilities pushing for their roster spots.
Antonio Smith (End)
Shaun Cody (Tackle)
J.J. Watt (End)
Earl Mitchell (Tackle)
Tim Jamison (End)
Jared Crick (End)
Hebron "Loni" Fangupo, David Hunter, Tracy Robertson, Rennie Moore, Jr.
Longtime backup end Tim Bulman has not been re-signed.
DE Kenneth Browner signed. Player on roster not previously listed: Ra'Shon Harris.
Robertson and Browner off roster. Moore, Jr. listed as OLB. Mitch King on roster. Bulman released by Patriots. Harris on IR. Jimmy Sadler-McQueen released.
King, Hunter, Fangupo, Browner cut.
Hunter on Practice Squad
Prediction Success: Flawless Victory!
Bang on, gotta win sometime.
Linebacker is another position of strength for the team despite the (inevitable) loss of Mario Williams.
The loss of DeMeco Ryans makes a bigger change to last year's team—or how it ended up, at least.
Ryans was replaced with a free agent, while Williams was replaced in the draft.
On the other hand, Darryl Sharpton returned from injury, cutting down on room for guys who flashed potential in their limited appearances.
Connor Barwin (OLB)
Brian Cushing (ILB)
Bradie James (ILB)
Brooks Reed (OLB)
Whitney Mercilus (OLB)
Darryl Sharpton (ILB)
Jesse Nading (OLB)
Tim Dobbins (ILB)
Mister Alexander, Bryan Braman, Derrell "D.J." Bryant, Delano Johnson, Greg Williams, Shawn Louiseau, Derrell Smith
Smith officially a FB on roster now.
Rennie Moore switched from DE. Omar Gaither added to roster. Sharpton on PUP. Greg Williams, Gaither cut.
Moore, Johnson, Bryant, Louiseau cut.
Johnson on Practice Squad
Prediction Success: Good
Sharpton was injured, and they kept one more than I thought. I had Braman and Alexander on the practice squad.
Cornerback has to have been the toughest position to pick (with safety second, by association). Three guys are guaranteed to be here at cornerback, plus a couple at safety.
Beyond that are a ton of young guys, many of whom have been highly praised by the team, others who have never been seen, some who were drafted and others who weren't. And that's not counting injuries and the fact that some guys can or have switched positions.
Brice McCain (Nickelback)
Roc Carmichael, Alan Ball
A window into my mind right now:
Kareem, though lambasted by fans, came into the league in the worst possible situation. He continues to be started in front of everyone else on the roster (minus Jason Allen, now departed, and Brice McCain, who is thought by some to be more talented but is cut out to be a great nickelback and not a great shutdown corner). I've heard an interesting idea about making him a safety—and I'm in favor of trying that—but I don't see it happening right now.
Brandon Harris, who never played last year, would be off the roster except he's a high draft pick. The team was high on Roc before his injury, but he's a numbers victim.
Williams is transitioning and turning heads.
No idea about Ball, but I get the sense he's just there to give a veteran presence/insurance during camp.
Desmond Marrow, who I was unaware was considered a CB, was cut.
Torri Williams Cut.
Sherrick McManis traded.
Prediction Status: Poor
One was a trade, but I had two backups and two cuts wrong.
Safety is a bit of a question, mostly because of the question that is cornerback.
Glover Quin, one of the team's best safeties, was once a corner. In a pinch, he might be again.
Torri Williams, a promising young safety, is transitioning to corner right now.
Assuming there are no additional position changes, however, it's an easy call.
Eddie Pleasant, Desmond Marrow
Nolan, Pleasant cut.
Pleasant on Practice Squad
Prediction Success: Fair.
They only kept four, but they cut one I didn't think was at the bottom.
Really, this is the easiest call, as there are the fewest options.
Ever since Joel Dreessen became a bigger factor at tight end, the Texans have been running with a full-time long snapper. For much of the time, this has been Jon Weeks.
They toyed with a full-time returner in Trindon Holliday, but decided even he would need to be a serviceable sixth receiver to get the job.
Whoever the returners are, they'll play a position too.
Randy Bullock (Kicker)
Donnie Jones/Brett Hartmann (Punter)
Jonathan Weeks (Long Snapper)
Shayne Graham (Kicker)
Hartmann is suspended and so doesn't count against the 53-man roster, but he'll take over for Jones once he's available.
Bullock on IR. Hartmann cut.
Update 8/31: No transactions.
Prediction Success: Epic Fail
I could only have been more wrong if I'd called for Weeks to get cut.
Your Inactive List for Week 1:
Case Keenum (Quarterback)
Logan Brock (Tight End)
Ben Jones (Center)
Jeff Maehl (Wide Receiver)
Jared Crick (Defensive End)
Shiloh Keo (Safety)
Brandon Harris (Cornerback)
Torri Williams (Cornerback)
Your Practice Squad on opening day:
Nick Mondek (Tackle)
Brandon Brooks (Guard)
Juaquin Iglesias (Wide Receiver)
Trindon Holliday (Wide Receiver)
Mister Alexander (Inside Linebacker)
Bryan Braman (Outside Linebacker)
Roc Carmichael (Cornerback)
Javarris Williams (Running Back)
Update 8/27: Javarris & Torri Williams are off the roster, along with Mondek. All might still make the practice squad.
Holliday was making a huge push for the opening day roster but fumbled twice.
Case Keenum, Jonathan Grimes, Philip Supernaw, Jeff Maehl, David Hunter, Delano Johnson, and Eddie Pleasant are the first 7 on the Practice Squad.