Ahhh… Training camp is a time for teams to solidify, and nail down their rosters.
Just like every other team in the league, the Texans are about to undertake the daunting task of culling the talent on their roster down to the 53 men, who will be with the team for the rest of the season.
The Houston Texans enter training camp carrying 82 total players 78 of who are signed and active on the roster. Three have not signed as of yet, and one is on the injured reserve.
Here is a position by position look at the possible candidates, and who should be left standing at the end of the 2010 Houston Texans Training Camp.
Historically the Texans have begun the season with two quarterbacks on the active roster. However, in 2009 the Texans kept three.
This season, since Rex Grossman left for the Washington Redskins, the Texans will enter the 2010 season with only two quarterbacks on the roster.
2009 Pro Bowl MVP Matt Schaub will be the starter and Dan Orlovsky will hang on as the backup quarterback.
Expect Orlovsky to get plenty of snaps during preseason games in an effort to insure he is going to be a solid option in case Schaub should go down.
John David Booty will probably survive until the last round of cuts, and then either sign on the practice squad or move to another franchise.
Booty being cut will bring the roster count down to 81.
The Texans have a running back completion unfolding this season, and it should be a fantastic display of rock toting skills.
Beginning the season with three running backs on the roster is the norm for the Texans. This year the Texans enter training camp two backs heavy.
The current depth chart would have sophomore Arian Foster on top followed by Steve Slaton returning after a season ending injury. In close third would be rookie from Auburn, Ben Tate. These three will be the running backs who make the team.
However, witch one comes out on top as the starter is anyone’s guess.
Third-year running back from the Tennessee Titans Chris Henry looks great in practice, but for some reason has trouble translating that work ethic to the field. The sophomore from Oregon, Jeremiah Johnson spent the 2009 season on injured reserve, and may have missed his window to make this team.
The Texans draft of Ben Tate in the second round is the proof they were not all that high on their returning running backs. Tate has yet to sign with the team, and let’s hope contract issues don’t slow down his much needed progress during the preseason.
Henry and Johnson will be the backs released bringing down the roster count to 79.
The Houston Texans are one of the only teams left in the league that really utilizes the fullback position. Texans full backs are crucial to their blocking schemes, and are also productive in their passing game.
For the second season in a row the Texans are entering training camp with two fullbacks. Last year the fan favorite Boomer Grigsby was injured during pre-season. He did not play one single snap in the regular season.
This left the Texans with only one full back, Vonta Leach. Number 44, Leach has been a constant force on the Texans' offensive for the last four seasons, and there is no reason to believe that will change in 2010.
The Texans also signed Justin Griffith from the Seattle Seahawks during free agency. Griffith is an eight year veteran, and he should be a factor on special teams as well.
Both fullbacks, barring injury, will remain on the roster for the 2010 season leaving the total roster count at 79.
The tight end position is one of the deepest the Texans have going into the 2010 season.
Owen Daniels returns from a season ending knee injury from mid way throughout the 2009 season. He will be the starter at tight end.
The team drafted rookie Garrett Graham from Owen Daniels alma mater Wisconsin. Graham a fourth round pick, excelled so far in OTAs, and has a high probability of making this team. He has yet to sign.
Last year, when Daniels went down, Joel Dreessen stepped up and filled the gap. Not as dynamic in the passing game as Daniels, Dreessen benefited from all the extra playing time he received in Daniels' absence. Despite Dreessen improvement in 2009 he could be fighting for a spot on the roster once training camp starts.
As well as Dreesseen sophomore from rice James Casey spent more time then he would have in the wake of Daniels' injury. Casey also stood out on special teams, and is a favorite of owner Bob McNair. However, on a team heavy in the tight end department Casey is defiantly on the fringe.
Daniels, Dreessen, Casey, and Graham are the most probable tight ends to make the roster at the end of training camp.
Now who is likely to be released: Sophomore Anthony Hill who spent most the 2009 season injured, and free agent Derek Fine. Fine was signed in the offseason to fill the void while the starts recovered during mini camps, and OTAs.
With the departure of Hill and Fine the roster is now down to 77.
Who could the Texans' No. 1 receiver be?
The wide receiver spot is another deep one on this team’s roster. The Texans are carrying a staggering nine receivers into the preseason. Not totally uncommon for the league’s best passing team.
Returning starters will be the no-brainer Andre Johnson, and the newly upgraded contract holder Kevin Walters at both wideouts.
Jacoby Jones will be pushing Walters for a starting job, and with his punt threats holds a solid roster spot. While kick returner and wide receiver Andre Davis could be on the fringe except for his ability to disrupt opposing teams kick and punt returns.
Small receiver with the huger personality David Anderson is another of the returning receivers who will keep a spot going into the 2010 season.
Rookies Dorin Dickerson from Pitt has all kinds of upside, and Trindon Holliday’s 4.27 second 40-yard dash will keep both these receivers around. Look for both to make stand out appearances on special teams this preseason.
That leaves Glen Martinez and Bobby Williams, two fantastic athletes that the coaches are going to reluctantly have to release to make the mandated roster size. Wideout Trey Stross is already on the injured reserve list and unlikely to make the team.
This thinning of the receivers will leave the Texans with 74 on the roster.
The center position should be an interesting one to follow during training camp.
Many fans were not satisfied by the performance of third-year returning center Chris Myers’ 2009 season. There were far too many games decided on the one yard line where Myers was stood up by opposing defenses for losses.
In his defense, it only takes one of those situations to upset fans.
Chris White, if healthy will start, and be backed up by Meyers. Also sophomore guard Antoine Coldwell can fill in at center if needed.
Rookie free agent from LSU, Bret Helms will sign onto the practice squad, and provide depth if needed.
This will bring the roster count down to 73.
The 2009 season was riddled with injuries at the guard position. Chester Pitts and Mike Brisiel both were placed on injured reserve.
This season the Texans already opted not to extend Pitts’ contract, so he is on the free agent market.
Once the two starts went down Kasey Studdard and Antoine Caldwell stepped in to take up the torch. It took some time, but by the last four games of the season the two backups looked like starters.
In the offseason the Texans signed Wade Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs, and rookie free agent from Colorado State Shelley Smith. Smith will sign on the practice squad, and be called up if needed during the 2010 season.
Four Guards will remain on the 2010 roster leaving the roster count at 72.
The Texans two starting offensive tackles are as good as any in the league.
Fifth year veteran Eric Winston from Miami, and 3rd year retuning left tackle Duane Brown from Virginia Tech are both expected to make the team at the top of the depth chart.
So the competition will be who remains as backups. The battle will be between 5th year veterans Rashad Butler, and Adam Stenavich. As well as rookie free agents Steve Maneri from Temple and Colorado States Cole Pemberton.
Expect the Pemberton to sign with the practice squad, because of Kubiaks ties to CSU. While Maneri, and Stenavich will be cut, bringing the roster total down to 69.
The Texans coaching staff feels that they have the resources they need for the safety position. So, during the offseason they did not address the area that many believe needed an upgrade.
Strong safety nick named “the Bone Crusher” Bernard Pollard will be a solid starter in this league, and hopefully on this team for years to come.
However, there will be a five man competition to back Pollard up, as well as, start at the free safety position.
Injury prone Eugene Wilson is on the top of the depth chart for free safety as of now. Last preseasons illegal block by Bret Favre put knocked Wilson out of play for most of the 2009 season.
Dominique Barber is third on the depth chart backing up both Pollard and Wilson. Barber has played well over the last two seasons when given a chance to step on to the field.
Watch out for sophomore Troy Nolan from Arizona State during training camp. He was out for the 2009 season with a broken hand, however comes in this year looking like he played the entire season.
On the fence and not likely to keep a roster spot are rookie free agent safeties Torri Williams from Purdue, and Nicholas Polk from Indiana.
Once Polk and Williams are released or signed to the practice squad the roster will be at 67.
After the Texans opted out of renewing Dunta Robinson’s contract, and his departure to the Atlanta Falcons, the team set out to fill the need in the first round of the draft.
Drafting Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson in the first round, like all other first round picks taken by the Texans, he will start.
On the other edge will be the hard hitting corner from New Mexico, Glover Quin. The sophomore corner started for in 12 games during his rookie season and lead the team in passes defended with 11.
Second-year returning corner Brice McCain will rotate in at the nickel, and look for third year veteran Antwan Molden to see some time on the field if he stays healthy. Molden has all the attributes the Texans are looking for at his position, due to injuries, he just has not had the opportunity to showcase his abilities.
The Texans also picked up Sherrick McManis in the fifth round of the draft from Northwestern. McManis will start out on special teams, but over time become a solid corner for this team. McManis has a good chance to make the practice squad.
There are two veterans that will have to fight hard for a spot on this roster. 7th year veteran Jacques Reeves and 4th year veteran Fred Bennett are both on the fringe and could be looking for new jobs when the end of training camp arrives.
Also look to see the two rookie free agents signed in the offseason Pierre Singfeild and Mark Parson hope to make the practice squad.
With the weeding of the last four corners the Texans roster will be at 62.
The Texans have arguably the best linebacking group in the league.
The unit is led by team captain from Alabama middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who always has a smile on his face. Ryans is sandwiched by sophomore defensive rookie of the year Brian Cushing from USC at strong side, and fourth year veteran from Kansas State Zac Diles.
The Texans starting linebackers combined for 318 tackles, 4.5 sacks and four interceptions during the 2009 season.
The Texans have resigned 10th year veteran Danny Clark to fill in while starter Brian Cushing sits for a four game suspension. Clark will be competing against third year linebacker from Virginia Tech Xavier Adibi.
The Texans backup linebackers are no slouches either. Kevin Bentley was the 2009 Texans special teams’ player of the year with 21 tackles. Bentley enters his ninth season, and if he can continue to wreck havoc and lead the special teams unit expect him to survive the training camp cuts.
The Texans also drafted rookie from Miami Darryl Sharpton, who was voted hardest hitter on his college team. Sharpton will play on special teams, and possibly see some time on the field during passing situations.
Undrafted rookie free agent Isaiah Greenhouse and third year veteran Darnell Bing have an uphill battle, and probably won’t make the team.
This leaves the Texans with 60 players on the roster.
The Defensive tackle position has been a struggle for the Texans over the last four years of the Kubiak era.
Slated to start are youngest player ever drafted by the Texans four years ago Amobi Okoye, who needs to have a break out year in 2010. Fighting next to Okoye on the line, as of now, is six year veteran Shaun Cody.
The Texans drafted Earl Mitchell from Arizona in the third round of the draft this off season. Mitchell has a high motor, and is looking to push for a starting spot against Okoye and Cody.
Undrafted free agent Malcolm Sheppard from Arkansas has caught the eye of his coaches so far this offseason as well. He will make the practice squad.
DelJuan Robinson signed in 2008 eight off the practice squad, and may find himself back there in the 2010 season, as well as, third year behemoth from Texas Frank Okam.
Without Okam, Robinson, and Sheppard the Texans roster reduces to 58 players.
The Texans have spent some money and draft picks on their defensive line. This season the investment needs to give the rest of the team some return.
Starters will be controversial first round pick Mario Williams who is returning for his fifth season. Williams has been called out by owner Bob McNair to increase his productivity this season.
Antonio Smith is a free agent signing from the Arizona Cardinals retuning to the Texans for his second season. Smith will play end on running downs and move inside to tackle during passing downs.
When Smith moves inside sophomore ex Bear Cat, Connor Barwin will step on the field to provide a pass rush opposite Mario Williams.
Tim Bulman is returning for his sixth season in the league, and has rotated in during the course of the season. Another end who rotates in is sophomore from; guess where, Colorado Jesse Nading.
Sophomores Tim Jamison along with rookie free agents Mitch Unrein and Pannel Egboh, are unlikely to make the roster this season. Nading will sign with the practice squad.
The loss of four ends will bring the roster count to 54.
On special teams this season there is a kicker battle taking place. The two veteran kickers are legacy kicker Kris Brown, and ex-Arizona Cardinal Neil Rackers.
After the poor display from the 2009 season from kicker Kris Brown look for him to be supplanted by Neil Rackers during training camp.
Punter Matt Turk will remain, and continue to place the ball within the 10-yard line.
Long snapper Jon weeks could be cut this season, giving tight ends who can long snap Joel Dreessen or James Casey the opportunity to fill his roster spot.
With Weeks on the way out the roster now is down to 53.
Whew! There is a lot of potential on this roster, and I don’t envy the decisions the Texans coaching staff are going to have to make this training camp.