Joe Mahoney/Associated Press
Team Cuts Down the Roster to 75 Players
As you would expect from the first round of cuts, there weren't any surprises or players let go who could have been a difference-maker. The only move that could be considered noteworthy at this point was when the front office placed Lonnie Ballentine on season ending IR.
The safety out of Memphis was made Mr. Irrelevant when the Texans selected him with the last pick of the seventh-round. Ballentine possesses rare physical talents for the position in terms of height and speed, but was a project and likely would have been a practice-squad guy at best this season.
D.J. Swearinger Isn't Going to Change
The second-year safety out of South Carolina has been criticized frequently over his brief NFL career for poor performance in man coverage and for drawing too many penalties. The latter has continued to be an issue during this preseason, as his hit on Wes Welker surprisingly compelled Peyton Manning to get in Swearinger's face.
Many would like Swearinger to play under more control since refs appear to be looking for any opportunity to throw a flag on him for an illegal hit or unsportsmanlike conduct. But like it or not that's his style and he's sticking to it.
As reported by P.D. Starr of State of the Texans, Swearinger's teammates, including safety Kendrick Lewis, don't want him to change.
That’s just the way he plays, that’s the type of player he is. This is a physical game. You’ve just got to come out and if that’s what it takes, where he doesn’t hit a guy the proper way, that’s what he’s got to correct. Whether it’s how he tackles or when he tackles, just doing it in a proper way and the way the league wants it to be done.
Bill O'Brien often defends him in the media, so it doesn't appear that he has any issue with Swearinger's style of play either.
Tom Savage Closing the Gap on Case Keenum for the Backup Quarterback Job
After leading the Texans down the field for a game-winning touchdown against Denver (and clearly outplaying Case Keenum in the process), it appears that rookie fourth-round pick Tom Savage may leap frog the veteran for the role of backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Outside of the game against Denver, Savage hasn't played all that well, but neither has Keenum. It therefore stands to reason that if the competition between the two quarterbacks is close, the backup gig should be given to the player who is considered the team's future at the position; that of course is Savage.
While Savage isn't lighting the world on fire, he has shown noticeable signs of improvement whereas Keenum has continued to have the same struggles with accuracy and decision-making that plagued his final five games last season.
From Tania Ganguli of ESPN, coach Bill O'Brien was impressed with Savage during the final moments of the game.
...I thought that he kept his poise there really well. He was able to motion, I believe it was [Travis] Labhart, and then make the correct protection point, and then make the right read, and then make the throw, which is a good thing to see for us for a rookie quarterback to be able to do that, so I thought he handled that situation well.
If O'Brien truly believes the backup quarterback battle is close, he should cut Keenum and reserve that roster spot for either a running back or defensive lineman.