Houston Texans: Complete 2012 NFL Preseason & Training Camp Guide

Jeffery RoyContributor IIIJuly 20, 2012

Houston Texans: Complete 2012 NFL Preseason & Training Camp Guide

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    When the Houston Texans open their training camp on July 27, it will be an inauguration. The opening ceremony on a season filled with the highest of expectations.

    Before they can book a February trip to New Orleans, their first step will be to answer a host of questions. Their responses will hold the key to building upon the promise of their 2011 campaign.

    At the same time, this franchise finds itself in unfamiliar territory. They must adjust to their status as defending AFC South champs. How will they handle having the target on their back? Four weeks of two-a-days and four preseason games will provide some clues.

The Biggest Question Marks

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    How is Matt Schaub’s Lisfranc injury?

    Schaub has been cleared to fully participate in all training camp activities. He now needs to make up for lost time working with the unproven WR’s who will man the 3 through 5 spots on the depth chart.

     

    Can the defense sustain its excellence?

    Some slippage in the defensive rankings is likely given the track record of Wade Phillips. How low they can go before their goals are threatened will depend on who develops over the course of the preseason.

    Who wins the No. 3 receiver battle?

    Lestar Jean, Devier Posey, and Keshwan Martin could all end up on the active roster. Who is first off the bench on passing downs should be answered by the opening of the regular season.

    What is the state of the right side of offensive line?

    Brandon Brooks was drafted to push injury prone Antoine Caldwell, but can Brooks drop thirty pounds and learn the intricacies of the zone blocking technique? The bigger question is can Caldwell stay healthy for 16 games. Rashad Butler filled in admirably for Duane Brown over four games in 2010. Can he do the same over a full season?

    Who is the fullback?

    James Casey is slated as the starter, but is more accomplished as a receiver than blocker. Thirty-four year old Moran Norris, rookies Jason Ford and Derrell Smith are the other options. Is this a pick-your-poison position?

    Is there adequate depth in the defensive backfield?

    If Johnathan Joseph or Kareem Jackson goes down, Brice McCain takes over. Who becomes the nickelback, an increasingly critical position strategically speaking? Brandon Harris, Sherrick McManis, and Roc Carmichael as replacements do not help DB Coach Vance Joseph sleep soundly.

    Will Mercilus live up to his name?

    Connor Barwin, team sack leader in 2011, is up for a new contract this year. If GM Rick Smith cannot afford to resign him, their No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft will be expected to take over.

     

Players on the Roster Bubble

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    Case Keenum

    The UDFA  wowed the coaching staff during OTA’s, and locals favor the University of Houston graduate. John Beck has some experience, but never won as game as a starter. Look for Beck on the waiver wire by the start of the regular season. 

    Tim Dobbins

    He played 15 games at the same position as Phillips favorite Bradie James and the soon to be recovered Darryl Sharpton. That makes him a rather expensive $700,000 insurance policy. 

    Shelley Smith

    This guy has either been on the practice squad or injured reserve in his two seasons with the team. At this point he has a much experience at his position as draftees Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones. This makes him a long shot for his continued employment with the Texans. 

    Shiloh Keo

    This season needs to show he can do more than just contribute on special teams contributor. No one questions his heart or football instincts, just his foot speed. With Quintin Demps back in the fold, Shiloh could be a no-go come September. 

    Jesse Nading

    A reliable backup over the years, he appeared in 11 games and registered a half a sack. Bryan Braman had comparable stats but a memorable hit against the Titans. Who gets to stay may come down to salary: Nading’s $615,000 vs. Braman’s $465,000.  

    Brett Hartmann

    Hartmann is suspended for the first three games of 2012, so Donnie Jones is slated as the substitute punter for now. Special Teams Coach Joe Marciano has been non-commital on the frontrunner, but Hartmann is a remarkable kickoff specialist. Brett could be stashed on the practice squad, or released outright if Jones recaptures his mid-career skills. 

    Tim Jamison

    He has always produced when called upon despite several round trips to the practice squad. A 3-4 defense will typically carry just three defensive ends on the active roster. If Jared Crick lives up to his 2010 All-American ability, Jamison could find himself back on the practice squad or even the cut list.  

    Derek Newton or Nick Mondek?

    There is only room for one late round OT on the Texans. Will it be 2011 pick Derek Newton or 2012 pick Nick Mondek? Mondek has a Big Ten pedigree, while Newton hails from the Sun Belt Conference. Still, it looks like a toss-up between the two. 

    Randy Bullock

    The training camp rule for placekickers is to bring in a least two for competitive purposes. Usually one does not cost a fifth round pick like Bullock. Shayne Graham is only around to keep appearances up, or just in case the ex-Aggie self-destructs. 

    Cody Wallace

    Who is this unnecessary center , and why is he on this roster? Ben Jones was chosen in the third round of this year’s draft to be groomed as Chris Myers backup. And the unfortunate Mr. Wallace is headed back for another go round as an NFL journeyman.

     

Players to Watch

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    T.J. Yates

    How many snaps will it take to get the taste of the Baltimore playoff loss out of his mouth? He’ll get plenty of them to see if the No. 2 QB job is his permanent reward for filling in for Matt Schaub under difficult circumstances.

     

     

    Case Keenum

    His quest for the No. 3 QB job benefits from the goodwill he brings from his exceptional career at the city’s largest university. His supporters hope his Brees-like stature carries with it the same potential.

    John Beck

    Real NFL experience is the only advantage the BYU grad has. But he failed to take a snap from 2008 to 2010, and had a 72.1 QB rating in three games last season. A less than sterling resume, to be sure.

    James Casey

    Having the best pair of hands on the team play fullback is like turning a promising centerfielder into a catcher. How his multi-dimensional talent actually gets utilized will be worth following.

    Moran Norris

    How much does this 10-year vet have left in the tank? Is it enough to allow Casey to do what he does best and still let the rushing attack excel?

    Justin Forsett

    When given playing time in the past, Forsett has shown above average production. Going into camp, he is the current favorite to be the change of pace No. 3 RB on the active roster.

    Lestar Jean

    His season on the practice squad puts him ahead of the draft choices and free agents on the roster. Preseason games could find him as the No. 1 receiver in those formations with Keenum and Beck at the helm.

    DeVier Posey

    Getting back into football shape is his first priority. His second is showing he can copensate for his lack of downfield speed with crisp routes and separating from coverage.

    Keshawn Martin

    Since he seems to be the Texans punt returner by default, will his 4.4 40 time insure a high level spot on the depth chart for receivers? He is my choice for being the favored rookie target during the preseason trial period.

    Brandon Brooks

    The revamped right side of the Texans offensive line of Caldwell and Butler will need some playing time to work out the kinks. Brooks went into OTA’s with enough girth to provoke the ire of Gary Kubiak. Drop the weight and learn the dance steps that are the essence of zone blocking and he could push Caldwell right to the bench.

    Whitney Mercilus

    Could he start ahead of Brooks Reed to show he was worthy of a first round pick? And to ease the fear the Texans may have to replace unrestricted free agent Connor Barwin come 2013?

    Earl Mitchell

    Can he carry the extra weight he picked up in the offseason and still be effective? UDFA Hebron Fangupo could be ready to fill in if Mitchell shows any slippage.

    Bradie James

    James knows the ins and outs of Wade Phillips’ version of the 3-4. He thrived in it while wearing a Cowboy uniform, but can he do the same in Houston?

    Brice McCain

    The Texans nickel back took a huge step forward in 2011. But how much of the improvement was due to his skills as opposed to the improved pass rush?

    Randy Bullock

    His fifth round selection left most Texans watchers scratching their heads. Most teams are reluctant to draft kickers when so many are just waiting for some NFL team to call. His point totals at Texas A&M earned him the Groza Award, but his kicks decided very few games. Bottom line: Is he prepared for the pressure of kicking a deciding field goal in the NFL? 

     

     

Best Depth Chart Battles

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    QB: Case Keenum vs. John Beck

    All the NCAA records under Keenum’s name were gained passing out of the shotgun and with an unstructured playbook. Beck has yet to distinguish himself at any point in his erratic pro career. Upside vs. experience? The edge goes to Keenum, the hometown favorite.  

    FB: Moran Norris vs. Jason Ford vs. Derrell Smith

    Which of the three can play special teams and function as a backup fullback? The 10-year vet Norris, UDFA Ford, or converted LB Smith? These specs disqualify Norris, leaving Ford and Smith to duke it out. 

    TE: James Casey vs.Garrett Graham

    Who is the optimum replacement for the reliable ex-Texan Joel Dreesen? Casey, a.k.a. Thor, had an eye-popping game against the Saints last season. Then proceeded to virtually disappear from the offense. Graham has one reception in two seasons. Both will make the squad, but will Thor or Garrett be the choice for two TE formations?

     WR: Lestar Jean vs. Keshawn Martin vs. Devier Posey

    The names are listed in the current pecking order. It is conceivable any one of them could leapfrog the others. This contest will be the most watched battle in training camp. 

    RG: Antoine Caldwell vs. Brandon Brooks

    Gary Kubiak drafted Brooks to keep Caldwell from getting too complacent in the starting role. The zone blocking method prizes footwork over mass, and Brooks has too little experience with the former and too much of the latter. The experience advantage is Caldwell’s and the job is his to lose. 

    NT: Shaun Cody vs. Earl Mitchell vs. Hebron Fangupo

    Cody is in a contract year and will turn 30 by season’s end. Earl Mitchell is younger, cheaper, and added 20 lbs. of muscle in the offseason. Fangupo may have gone undrafted but looks like he was born to play NT. Fangupo could be groomed to take over for Cody and reserve some cap space for the Texans to resign its big name free agents in 2013. 

    DE: Tim Jamison vs. Jared Crick

    Crick was destined to be a high first round choice in this year until a torn pectoral muscle ended his career at Nebraska. Tim Jamison is no stiff, but Phillips and DL Coach Bill Kollar would love to seem what the former Cornhusker can do in the big time. 

    ILB: Mister Alexander vs. Darryl Sharpton

    The undersized (5-11, 230 lbs.) Sharpton is on the mend from a torn quad tendon and was unable to participate in OTA’s. Alexander played sparingly in 2011, but has the size (6-3, 242 lbs.) favored by ILB in the 3-4 defense. You’re bigger, you’re faster, and doggone it, your chance has finally arrived. It’s time for Mister to master this position.   

    CB: Roc Carmichael vs. Sherrick McManis

    More specifically, the position under review is “dime back.” In obvious long yardage passing downs, it’s your job to cover the third or fourth receiver. Carmichael spent 2011 on injured reserved, and McManis played special teams and saw some action late season. One will have to step forward to shore up a defensive backfield with razor thin depth. 

Training Camp and Preseason Schedule

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                                          Practice Schedule

    Day

    Date

    Morning

    Afternoon

    Friday

    July 27

    No Practice

    Team Meetings

    Saturday

    July 28 

    8-10 a.m.   

    3-4:30 pm

    Sunday  

    July 29

    8-10 a.m.

    3-4:30 pm

    Monday

    July 30

    8-10 a.m.

    3-4:30 pm

    Tuesday

    July 31

    8-10 a.m. 

    2:45-3:35 pm

    Wednesday

    August 1

    8-10 a.m.

    3-4:30 pm

    Thursday 

    August 2

    8-10 a.m.

    2:45-3:35 pm

    Friday

    August 3

    8-10 a.m.

    3-4:30 pm

    Saturday

    August 4

    8-10 a.m.

    Off

    Sunday

    August 5

    Off

    No Practice

    Monday

    August 6

    8-10 a.m.

    3-4:30 pm

    Tuesday

    August 7

    8-10 a.m.

    2:45-3:35 pm

    Wednesday

    August 8

    8-10 a.m.

    3-4:30 pm

    Thursday

    August 9

    8-10 a.m.

    2:45-3:35 pm

    Friday

    August 10

    Practice Closed

    Practice Closed

    Sunday

    August 12

    No Practice

    No Practice

    Monday

    August 13

    No Practice

    2-3:30 pm

    Tuesday

    August 14

    8-10 a.m.

    3-4:30 pm

    Wednesday

    August 15

    8-10 a.m.

    2:45-3:35 pm

    Thursday

    August 16

    8-10 a.m.

    3-4:30 pm

    Friday

    August 17

    Practice Closed

    Practice Closed

    Sunday

    August 19

    No Practice

    No Practice

    Monday

    August 20

    No Practice

    2-3:30 pm

    Bold italics indicates practices open to the public.

     

    Preseason game 1:

    Carolina Panthers

    Saturday, 8/11 at 7:00 PM EDT

    Bank of America Stadium

    Charlotte, NC

     

    Preseason game 2:

    San Francisco 49ers

    Saturday, 8/18 at 7:00 PM CDT

    Reliant Stadium

    Houston, TX

     

    Preseason game 3:

    New Orleans Saints

    Saturday, 8/25 at 7:00 PM CDT

    Mercedes-Benz Superdome

    New Orleans, LA

     

    Preseason game 4:

    Minnesota Vikings

    Thursday, 8/30 at 6:00 PM CDT

    Reliant Stadium

    Houston, TX

     

    Training camp schedule courtesy of Houston Texans official site.

Training Camp Info

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    Location: Methodist Training Center

    Houston, Texas

    Rookies report: 7/22

    Veterans report: 7/27

    Start of training camp:  7/31

     

    Located across Kirby Drive from Reliant Stadium, the practice facility for the Texans was constructed in 2002. Built on the site of the old Sheraton Astrodome hotel, it has been the training camp site for the Texans since their inaugural season that same year. 

    The training complex includes 17 acres of practice fields of various sizes including an enclosed practice bubble. The air-conditioned, football field sized enclosure allows the team to continue drills when the mercury rises to the customary mid to upper 90’s temperatures Houston experiences in summer.

     

Houston Texans Camp Roster

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    Ben Jones

    C

    Chris Myers

    C

    Cody Wallace

    C

    Alan Ball

    DB

    Roc Carmichael

    DB

    Quintin Demps

    DB

    Brandon Harris

    DB

    Kareem Jackson

    DB

    Johnathon Joseph

    DB

    Shiloh Keo

    DB

    Danieal Manning

    DB

    Desmond Marrow

    DB

    Brice McCain

    DB

    Sherrick McManis

    DB

    Troy Nolan

    DB

    Eddie Pleasant

    DB

    Glover Quin

    DB

    Torri Williams

    DB

    Keith Browner

    DE

    Jared Crick

    DE

    Tim Jamison

    DE

    Tracy Robertson

    DE

    Antonio Smith

    DE

    J.J. Watt

    DE

    Shaun Cody

    DT

    Hebron Fangupo

    DT

    Earl Mitchell

    DT

    Rennie Moore

    DT

    Ra'Shon Harris

    DT

    Jason Ford

    RB

    Moran Norris

    RB

    Derrell Smith

    FB

    Thomas Austin

    G

    Brandon Brooks

    G

    Antoine Caldwell

    G

    Shelley Smith

    G

    Cody White

    G

    Randy Bullock

    K

    Shayne Graham

    K

    Mister Alexander

    LB

    Connor Barwin

    LB

    Bryan Braman

    LB

    Brooks Reed

    LB

    D.J. Bryant

    LB

    Brian Cushing

    LB

    Tim Dobbins

    LB

    Bradie James

    LB

    Delano Johnson

    LB

    Shawn Loiseau

    LB

    Whitney Mercilus

    LB

    Jesse Nading

    LB

    Darryl Sharpton

    LB

    Greg Williams

    LB

    Jon Weeks

    LS

    David Hunter

    NT

    Duane Brown

    OT

    Rashad Butler

    OT

    Andrew Gardner

    OT

    Nate Menkin

    OT

    Nick Mondek

    OT

    Derek Newton

    OT

    Wade Smith

    OT

    Brett Hartmann

    P

    Donnie Jones

    P

    John Beck

    QB

    Case Keenum

    QB

    Matt Schaub

    QB

    T.J. Yates

    QB

    Justin Forsett

    RB

    Arian Foster

    RB

    Jonathan Grimes

    RB

    Davin Meggett

    RB

    Ben Tate

    RB

    Logan Brock

    TE

    James Casey

    TE

    Owen Daniels

    TE

    Garrett Graham

    TE

    Phillip Supernaw

    TE

    Trindon Holliday

    WR

    Juaquin Iglesias

    WR

    Jerrell Jackson

    WR

    Lestar Jean

    WR

    Andre Johnson

    WR

    Dwight Jones

    WR

    Mario Louis

    WR

    Jeff Maehl

    WR

    Keshawn Martin

    WR

    DeVier Posey

    WR

    Kevin Walter

    WR

     

Houston Texans 2012 Rookie Class

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    First round pick Whitney Mercilus:

    The former Fighting Illini DE played the 5-technique from both sides of the line in college. So well he led the nation in sacks and forced fumbles his final season. 

    As a pro, he will have to learn to stand up as an OLB. Which means pass coverage and run support will be added to his overall responsibilities. Will he get into the flow of the position change or be overwhelmed by it all?  

     

    Third round pick DeVier Posey:

    Other than vets Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, the wide receiver corps of the Texans is a grab bag of novices. His college career at WR was compromised not just by two five game suspensions his senior year, but also by playing with run-first QB Terrelle Pryor

    Posey is expected to recapture the form that saw him gain over 1,600 yards and score 15 TD’s his sophomore and junior seasons. Whether he can do the same against NFL cornerbacks remains to be seen.

     

    Third round pick Brandon Brooks:

    In many ways, this promising interior linemen is carrying too much weight. Both on his 340+ lb. frame combined with the expectations of pushing Antoine Caldwell for job at RG. 

    In the mind of Gary Kubiak, Brooks’ presence is supposed to keep Caldwell motivated to stay on the field in a contract year for the oft-injured guard. But Brandon must get lean before he can play mean enough to land the promotion.

     

    Fourth round pick Keshawn Martin:

    The release of Jacoby Jones not only created an opening at receiver, but also for a punt returner. A four-way threat in college, he scored points passing, rushing, receiving, and returning kicks. 

    Luckily in the pros, he can take his breakaway speed and concentrate on just filling Jacoby’s previous job description. A bit smaller than the ideal NFL receiver (5-11, 189 lbs.), he has the athleticism to make up for it.

     

    Fourth round pick Ben Jones:

    With the elevation of Antoine Caldwell to starting at RG, C Chris Myers needs a new backup. Jones played center from the third game of his freshmen year at Georgia until he graduated from the institution. 

    A great blocker in college who was not known for his footwork, he must now master all the finesse that zone blocking demands. According to our own Bleacher Report, he now has a chance to learn from the best.

     

    Fourth round pick Jared Crick:

    An All-American for Nebraska at DT in 2010, he could have been a top-20 NFL draft pick if not for an injury-shortened senior season. When he was healthy, no single blocker could handle him.

    When Ndamukong Suh went on to head stomping fame in the big time, Crick saw more double teams and less success. It will be up to Wade Phillips to get him in as few of those situations as possible. And it will be up to Crick to learn how to handle them when they do come.

     

    Fifth round pick Randy Bullock: 

    What can a coach expect to learn about a placekicker in preseason? Accuracy, distance, and perhaps consistency may be effectively measured. But when the games do not affect the standings, game-winning pressure is taken out of the equation. 

    Bullock, of course, wants to make every kick regardless of the situation. Will his performance when they don’t count convince everyone he is ready for those situations when they will? His draft selection defied NFL convention, so he will get every chance to show he was worth the pick. 

     

    Sixth round pick Nick Mondek:

    His main opposition for an active roster spot is OT Derek Newton, who appeared in a grand total of two games as a 2011 rookie. Mondek showed excellent speed and strength for a 300 pounder on his Pro Day. 

    Some deficiency caused him to last until round six. Will OL Coach John Benton give him the time and instruction to learn what is expected from an NFL linemen?

Houston Texans 2012 Undrafted Free Agents

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    QB Case Keenum

    Already covered elsewhere in this guide, whether he gets more snaps than John Beck will hopefully be based on his game-by-game performance and not his emotional connection to the home crowd. 

    RB Jonathan Grimes

    While at William & Mary, Grimes was known for his ability to hit the hole quickly. Not very elusive in the open field, he is not big enough to run with power. His only shot would be as a special teamer. 

    RB Davin Meggett

    Built more like Maurice Jones-Drew than his father and former NFL RB Dave Meggett, he might make an excellent change of pace back behind Foster and Tate. Then again, he might be better stashed on the practice squad just in case of emergency.  

    FB Jason Ford 

    Are the Texans are desperate enough at fullback to recast this college tailback for the position? His stature (5-10, 251 lbs.) fits the bill, but is his body ready for the punishment he must take and receive? 

    WR Jerrell Jackson

    Jackson picked up the right way to run a pattern at Missouri, but never acquired the moves to shake off a defender downfield. Does this make him anything more than just another slot receiver who’s only good for intermediate routes? 

    WR Dwight Jones

    Right after donning the mantle of the “next Andre Johnson,” he cast it off by informing the Texans he was quitting football altogether. After catching 85 passes for 12 TD’s his senior year at UNC, he was destined for at least a Saturday selection at the 2012 draft. Now he seems destined for anonymity. 

    WR Mario Louis

    Average 20 yards per reception and register 18 scores your senior season and some team should at least take a flyer on you. The Grambling Tiger somehow went undrafted with these stats. Playing only two years of football and doing so in the SWAC may have worked against him.  He has four weeks to make his mark starting July 28th.   

    TE Logan Brock

    Not a big time TE at TCU, the 4.72 40 time at his Pro Day caught the attention of the scouts. Unfortunately, there are too many names ahead of him on the Texans depth chart. 

    TE Phillip Supernaw

    It’s one thing to be a stud for Ouachita Baptist in the Gulf South Conference. Now that NFL strong safeties can match you step-for-step, your ability to become a genuine weapon will be revealed. Whatever his chances, having the second best name to Mercilus amongst the rookie class can’t hurt. 

    G Cody White

    Moved from TE to OT for his junior and senior seasons at Illinois State, he is now expected to move one more time to OG. A position already crowded with the vets and draft picks, his only hope is for a serious injury to open up a spot somewhere. 

    OT Nathan Menkin

    Menkin played for Baylor, but not in Waco. Their Division III satellite campus in Belton, Texas has a player trying to make an NFL squad. He may be the longest of long shots in any training camp. But if Pierre Garcon can make it out of D-3 Mount Union, who knows? 

    DE Keith Browner Jr.

    As far as I can tell, Browner went undrafted and unsigned in 2011 and is just looking for another shot at an NFL career. He would have to be on a team more desperate for bodies for any possibility of making it. Trying to follow in your dad’s footsteps is always difficult. 

    DE Rennie Moore

    Played DT at Clemson, but his size (6-3, 268 lbs.) projects him to DE. Only eight sacks his entire college career means he lacks pass rush instincts. Will have to gain weight and strength to succeed, and four weeks of camp is not enough time to do both. 

    DE Tracy Robertson

    A Baylor DT that must also make the transition to DE. He can only hope his Pro Day 40 time of 5.21 was the slowest dash of his life. Luckily for him, it’s a short ride back to Waco from Houston.  

    NT Hebron Fangupo

    One the big debates going into the 2011 season for the Texans involved who would play NT. There was a faction that insisted a sumo type was preferable to converted  4-3 DT’s Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell. 

    Wade Phillips insisted the Texans would be fine and was proven correct. Why mess with success? One of the strongest players ever at BYU with the physique of a boulder could be worth a look. 

    NT David Hunter

    Another crosstown signee from the Houston Cougars has average size (6-2, 302 lbs.) and an average college resume. But he is four years younger than Fangupo, which looks like his only advantage over him  at the present time. 

    ILB Shawn Louiseau

     A reputation as a fearless and devastating tackler precedes him. Wade Phillips likes everyone in the front seven to pressure the QB, something most middle linebackers in college are not asked to do. However, he looks like a special teams demon in the making. 

    ILB Greg Williams

    One more college OLB better suited to the inside of the 3-4 defense. Short on all the tangibles that would have seen him drafted, maybe his bloodlines are the key. Being a close relative of former NFL running backs Edgerrin James and Albert Bentley could prove the difference when The Turk makes his rounds. 

    OLB Derrell “D.J.” Bryant

    This James Madison DE has to get his hand off the ground and now play as a standup linebacker. He is going to have to be better than second stringers Bryan Braman or Jesse Nading to get anyone’s attention. 

    OLB Delano Johnson 

    Johnson has more size and experience at his position than Bryant. To be an edge rusher in the NFL, you better be faster than the OT on the other side of the line. If his Pro Day was any indication, he is not

    FS Desmond Marrow

    The one-time cornerback at Toledo is looking to become a free safety for the Texans. Being 6-2 and 208 lbs. fills the size requirement, but the Phillips version of the 3-4 can often leave the FS on an island. His 4.5 40-yard time makes his combined talents tempting enough for the practice squad. 

    SS Eddie Pleasant

    A combination LB/SS for the Oregon Ducks, he is excels handling the run but finds pass coverage problematic. Appeared too stiff in the lower body to react to the jukes and cuts of the receiver.  Looks like a man without a position. 

     

    UDFA summary

    Rule #1 of the UDFA Guide To The NFL:  You may be forced to switch positions to survive in this league. 

    That being said, Keenum will be able to stick at QB as the likeliest member of this group to make the active roster. Loiseau has that sort of “it” thing going that could land him on special teams. Fangupo is different enough from the current NT’s to at least make the practice squad, along with the big, fast FS Marrow. 

    Otherwise, the rest of this crew is headed for the waiver wire.

Houston Texans 2012 Free Agency and Trade Additions

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    QB John Beck

    For someone who didn’t take a snap for three seasons, he is in an ideal position to make the team. His competition is an undersized system QB whose only edge is having played at a local school. Other than that, his complete lack of achievement overall is his principal drawback. 

    CB Alan Ball

    Drafted by Wade Phillips in 2007, Ball started all 16 games at FS in Phillips swan song as the Cowboys head coach. Their familiarity with one another will earn Ball a long look in secondary short on actually playing under fire. 

    RB Justin Forsett

    The retirement of Derrick Ward opened the way for a third running back. Forsett looked good during his time with the Seahawks, but lost his job as their third down back last season. If he can recapture his productivity from previous years, it will soften the departure of Ward. 

    FB Moran Norris

    This original Texan has been a blocking back his entire career. His playing time with the Niners last season was slim. An unrestricted free agent, he was signed by the Texans to a one-year deal. As the fullback on the roster with the most experience, can he handle alternating snaps with fellow FB James Casey at the age of 34? 

    DT Ra’Shon Harris

    He was drafted and released by the Steelers in 2009 on the final cutdown day. His brief career has been spent bouncing from the Panthers practice squad to the same destinations on the Steelers, the Bills, and finally the Steelers again. Out of the league for all of 2011, his stint with the Texans will probably not change his luck one bit. 

    K Shayne Graham

    An 11-year veteran, Graham is here to be certain kicker of the future Randy Bullock does not get complacent. His best days may be in his rearview mirror, but he knows what to do when the ball is spotted on the tee.

     

    Free Agent summary 

    With no trades and just a handful for free agents on board, the Texans must feel pretty comfortable with their roster. 

    Unless Meggett or Ford steps up, Forsett is a cinch to be the third RB. To free up Casey for his TE duties, Norris will be on the active roster to lead the way for Foster and Tate on occasion. 

    It’s too late in his career for Ball to change positions, and Graham is just here to tutor the rookie. Along with Harris, none will survive the final cutdown to 53 players on Sept. 2nd.

Houston Texans Preseason Analysis and Predictions

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    The approach to preseason games during the tenure of Gary Kubiak conforms to the standard around the NFL. Play your starters in the first quarter, then work your way down the depth chart for the rest of the game. If you have to rely upon your untried troops to win the game in the fourth quarter, that’s what preseason is all about.  

    Did the 3-1 preseason record in the 2011 help establish the momentum for the most triumphant results in team history? With few major areas of concern, it’s possible this four game audition will be taken more seriously than ever before.

     

    Game 1:  at Carolina Panthers

    Saturday, 8/11 at 7:00 PM EDT 

    All the Panther previews for 2012 zero in on the weakness in the defensive line. The DT’s are too young or too unaccomplished, save for 32 year-old Ron Edwards. And one of them, Andre Neblett, was just suspended for PED’s but will be allowed to play in the preseason.   

    The Texans biggest concerns are on offense. Expect them to work the kinks out at the expense of a Panther’s defense ranked near the bottom in every major category for 2011. Matt Schaub will need to get his timing down with his established receivers Johnson, Walter, and Daniels. The long line of contenders headed by Jean Posey, and Martin will get a few targets along the way. 

    On defense, Wade Phillips needs to explore the potential of his second string defensive backs. No CB’s were drafted, and Cam Newton would love to loosen up against the likes of Roc Carmichael and Sherrick McManis. The addition of all purpose RB Mike Tolbert to the third ranked rushing attack last year will keep the Texans’ pass rush guessing. 

    By game’s end, expect Case Keenum or John Beck to be closing out a victory on the road.

     

    Final Score: Texans 23 - Panthers 20 

     

    Game 2: San Francisco 49ers

    Saturday, 8/18 at 7:00 PM CDT

    The Niners had an even bigger turnaround than Houston in 2011, and it was also attributed to its defensive development. Start with Justin Smith, the top DE in the NFL, combined with the most dominant ILB in Patrick Willis, then add Defensive R.O.Y. Aldon Smith and calling this the best defense in the league is no boast. 

    The first 15 minutes could feel like a regular season game with everyone trying to prove their change in fortune was no fluke. The right flank of the Texans’ OL manned by Caldwell and Butler will be probed for weaknesses along with Schaub’s mended right foot. 

    When the Niners first string defense finally takes a seat, both teams will settle into a more predictable rotation of near-names and no-names. T.J. Yates and the Niners’ backup QB Colin Kaepernick will get their required reps. Yates’ baptism under fire down the stretch last year could give Houston the edge in quarters 2 and 3. 

    By the final period, the home crowd will have cheered themselves silly and propelled the home team to a win.

     

    Final score: Texans 27- 49ers 19

     

    Game 3: at New Orleans Saints

    Saturday, 8/25 at 7:00 PM CDT 

    Most of the fallout from Bountygate will have been absorbed by the Saints players and coaching staff by this time. The full effect may still be unknown. 

    The offense returns almost intact, led by the NFL’s first $20 million dollar man Drew Brees.  The New Orleans defense lost three starters to the scandal and it may be a good time to kick them while they’re down.  

    The Texans could not handle the four receiver sets Sean Payton called late in the 40-33 regular season loss last year. Most coaches might not look for redemption in a preseason game. Coach Kubiak may see this one another way. 

    Since the starters will play very little in the final preseason tilt against Minnesota, the main guns in the Houston offense may see some extra snaps. Wade Phillips may want to prove that he has the pass rush to shred the Saints mediocre OL

    The cutdown to 80 players comes the Tuesday following this game. By this point, the coaching staff has already decided who will have to hand in their playbook. This could be just the right time to go for broke.

     

    Final score: Texans 34, Saints 21 

     

    Game 4: Minnesota Vikings

    Thursday, 8/30 at 6:00 PM CDT 

    In the 2011 preseason finale, the Texans used the last game against the Vikings as a final exam for backup Matt Leinart. They were clearing looking ahead to the start of the regular season. When the scoreboard ended up Minnesota 28, Houston 0, was there any doubt? 

    Why play the game any differently this year? The first undefeated preseason in team history would read like the perfect prelude to their quest for their ultimate goal, Super Bowl XLVII. 

    Fans should not buy into the hype. As a team, the Vikings may be full of questions marks, They also are full of players with something to prove

    Their defense still has Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Chad Greenway. Adrian Peterson may be held out until the regular season, but their offensive line is better than average. They also added a “can’t miss” tackle in Matt Kalil. 

    The Texans could have upwards of 27 players to dismiss by the final cutdown date of Tuesday, Sept. 2nd. A parade of future free agents will be in and out of the lineup. The only strategy in this contest is that no one headed to the active roster get injured.

    Getting shut out last season meant nothing once the hitting started for real. There is no reason to treat this preseason wrap-up any differently.

     

    Final score: Vikings 24, Texans 10

Houston Texans 2012 Final 53-Man Roster

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      No.            Name                  Pos.       Ht.          Wt.         Exp.       College

    60

    Ben Jones

    C

    6'2"

    303

    R

    Georgia

    55

    Chris Myers

    C

    6'4"

    289

    8

    Miami (Fla.)

    20

    Roc Carmichael

    DB

    5'10"

    184

    2

    Virginia Tech

    27

    Quintin Demps

    DB

    5'11"

    206

    4

    Texas-El Paso

    26

    Brandon Harris

    DB

    5'10"

    195

    2

    Miami (Fla.)

    25

    Kareem Jackson

    DB

    5'10"

    188

    3

    Alabama

    24

    Johnathon Joseph

    DB

    5'11"

    191

    7

    South Carolina

    31

    Shiloh Keo

    DB

    5'11"

    212

    2

    Idaho

    38

    Danieal Manning

    DB

    5'11"

    209

    7

    Abilene Christian

    21

    Brice McCain

    DB

    5'9"

    180

    4

    Utah

    22

    Sherrick McManis

    DB

    6'1"

    193

    3

    Northwestern

    33

    Troy Nolan

    DB

    6'2"

    202

    4

    Arizona State

    29

    Glover Quin

    DB

    6'0"

    209

    4

    New Mexico

    93

    Jared Crick

    DE

    6'4"

    276

    R

    Nebraska

    96

    Tim Jamison

    DE

    6'3"

    285

    4

    Michigan

    94

    Antonio Smith

    DE

    6'4"

    280

    9

    Oklahoma State

    99

    J.J. Watt

    DE

    6'5"

    288

    2

    Wisconsin

    95

    Shaun Cody

    DT

    6'4"

    301

    8

    USC

    92

    Earl Mitchell

    DT

    6'3"

    289

    3

    Arizona

    40

    Moran Norris

    RB

    6'1"

    250

    12

    Kansas

    79

    Brandon Brooks

    G

    6'5"

    343

    R

    Miami (Ohio)

    62

    Antoine Caldwell

    G

    6'3"

    311

    4

    Alabama

    71

    Shelley Smith

    G

    6'4"

    297

    3

    Colorado State

    4

    Randy Bullock

    K

    5'9"

    208

    R

    Texas A&M

    98

    Connor Barwin

    LB

    6'4"

    264

    4

    Cincinnati

    50

    Bryan Braman

    LB

    6'5"

    246

    2

    West Texas A&M

    58

    Brooks Reed

    LB

    6'3"

    250

    2

    Arizona

    56

    Brian Cushing

    LB

    6'3"

    248

    4

    USC

    53

    Bradie James

    LB

    6'2"

    246

    10

    LSU

    59

    Whitney Mercilus

    LB

    6'4"

    254

    R

    Illinois

    51

    Darryl Sharpton

    LB

    5'11"

    230

    3

    Miami (Fla.)

    46

    Jon Weeks

    LS

    5'10"

    242

    3

    Baylor

    76

    Duane Brown

    OT

    6'4"

    320

    5

    Virginia Tech

    78

    Rashad Butler

    OT

    6'4"

    317

    7

    Miami (Fla.)

    75

    Derek Newton

    OT

    6'6"

    307

    2

    Arkansas State

    74

    Wade Smith

    OT

    6'4"

    310

    9

    Memphis

    2

    Brett Hartmann

    P

    6'2"

    227

    2

    Central Michigan

    5

    Donnie Jones

    P

    6'2"

    220

    9

    LSU

    7

    Case Keenum

    QB

    6'1"

    206

    R

    Houston

    8

    Matt Schaub

    QB

    6'5"

    241

    9

    Virginia

    13

    T.J. Yates

    QB

    6'4"

    220

    2

    North Carolina

    28

    Justin Forsett

    RB

    5'8"

    198

    5

    California

    23

    Arian Foster

    RB

    6'1"

    229

    4

    Tennessee

    30

    Davin Meggett

    RB

    5'8"

    211

    R

    Maryland

    44

    Ben Tate

    RB

    5'11"

    214

    3

    Auburn

    86

    James Casey

    TE

    6'3"

    243

    4

    Rice

    81

    Owen Daniels

    TE

    6'3"

    247

    7

    Wisconsin

    88

    Garrett Graham

    TE

    6'3"

    240

    3

    Wisconsin

    18

    Lestar Jean

    WR

    6'3"

    205

    2

    Florida Atlantic

    80

    Andre Johnson

    WR

    6'3"

    226

    10

    Miami (Fla.)

    82

    Keshawn Martin

    WR

    5'11"

    194

    R

    Michigan State

    11

    DeVier Posey

    WR

    6'1"

    211

    R

    Ohio State

    83

    Kevin Walter

    WR

    6'3"

    217

    10

    Eastern Michigan