The talk heading into the Houston Texans fourth preseason game will be the lack of meaning to the game, especially with very limited starters in the game. That is far from the truth with the number of spots that will be up for grabs on the 53 man roster and practice squad.
Players across the NFL will be doing everything possible on Thursday night to make sure they put enough on film for their current team and other NFL teams to show they can play in this league.
The Texans will be having their own decisions to make and it will start with the players wearing Texans uniforms at NRG Stadium.
We will take a look at the players that have something to play for in Houston and how players that have been with the team since June want to call the city their home.
Playing for Something on Thursday Night
The quarterback has to prove he is the best option as back up quarterback for the regular season, and he is getting the start against San Francisco. Keenum has to come out producing from the start and improve his passing efficiency, especially to the middle of the field.
He has been sidelined the majority of the preseason dealing with a hamstring injury but is now healthy. Keo’s absence has put him down on the depth chart and it is looking like he is going to be competing with Eddie Pleasant for a spot on the 53 man roster. Keo’s time could be coming to an end in Houston with his injury during camp having put him in a tough spot.
Pleasant has put together some solid work on the field with the time he is getting to impress the coaching staff. Add in some good special teams play from Pleasant, his hard hitting attitude has pushed him into the discussion as the 4th best safety on the roster. For a team that needs special teams players, Pleasant knows that it is his best shot to make the team.
Make no mistake, the cornerback can play special teams very well, but for a team that needs coverage help Victorian has struggled. He can hold his own against 3rd team offenses, but if he is needed against better competition it could become a problem. With so many players across the NFL that will be waived within the week, there could easily be better options to put on the 53 man roster than Victorian.
The rookie inside linebacker has made some splash plays in pass coverage with an interception and a tipped pass that resulted in an interception. The only real issue for Bullough is his overall speed on the field to play the game sideline to sideline. He has been exposed some by NFL speed and, despite good reads, he is just not fast enough to run down plays. He is decent in between the tackles in the run game, but whether he can help the Texans on the 53 man roster is the real question.
The center has been something to watch this preseason and despite his small frame (6-2, 285 lbs.), he has been holding his own against NFL caliber players with the recent absence of Chris Myers. He may not be what NFL teams look for at first glance, but his technique and being a coach’s son has helped his transition to the NFL. Where he fits is more than likely on the practice squad, but his recent play has made him a possibility for the 53 man roster.
The second year wide receiver has had a strong training camp but during game time this preseason he has been non-existent in the passing game. His speed is his best asset and getting him on the field to take the top off a defense could be his best attribute. Consistency catching the football has been a slight issue, but he has a legitimate shot to make the 53 man roster to add more youth to the team.
Slowly becoming the one player that the entire fan base is pulling for to make the team, Labhart deserves all the publicity he is getting. His work ethic and what he has done on the field with his limited work has put him into a good spot to be a part of this team when the preseason is over. The only real discussion is if it is on the 53 man roster or passing him through waivers to get him to the practice squad.
He has made a solid transition to outside linebacker after playing defensive end in college. He made good early strides in his new position but he has not taken the jump needed to be a difference maker off the edge. Inconsistent setting the edge and no real pass moves, Ankrah has shown he might have what is takes to play the position in the coming seasons. He is not ready for the 53 man roster and his best option is to develop on the practice squad.
At 6-6 and 330 lbs., the rookie offensive tackle is a mammoth at the position and has the tools to make it somewhere on the Texans offensive line. There is not much growing left for Feiler at this point so it is about refining his technique and improving his movement skills. His decent play since camp opened has given the staff enough good looks to be happy with him for a possible invite to the practice squad.
Given an early chance to play at left guard due to multiple injuries on the offensive line, Kupper could not take a hold of the position. Kupper spent time on the active roster, but with the guard position getting healthy again things could change for the him in a hurry. This will all depend on how the Texans want to fill out the Texans offensive line, but the Texans have two options to keep the second year player. Having Kupper waiting on the practice squad for a call up due to an injury would be a good option for the Texans.
The rookie cornerback is explosive and an above average tackler when given the chance. Getting him to the practice squad and developed for an entire year could be exactly what Williams needs in order to become better suited for the NFL. He has a good skill set but a numbers game and him not being NFL ready are the biggest issues. He could be an asset to the team in the coming years and the team needs to groom him to have that chance.
He keeps popping up on film and producing in the situations he is put in. He came to Houston during rookie mini camp and turned a tryout into a contract and now he is on the brink of being a possible practice squad player. Warmsley fits the mold of the defensive ends the Texans want on the defense, and his non-stop motor are attributes that can not be taught. Warmsley has done enough to be invited back to the Texans practice squad and he has to put together just one more solid game on Thursday.
He has made some big plays in practice during training camp and his athletic ability is something to watch. At 6-3 and 208 lbs., he moves well for his size and has the speed to separate from defenders. He has above average hands and put that on display with acrobatic receptions in team drills. Knowing the offensive system is one thing, but he has shown that he can produce against NFL competition.
The tight end has some serious upside and the coaching staff sees it with Denham. With no background in run blocking coming out of college, the Texans have had to teach him how to be an inline blocker. His skill set comes into play when he goes out on pass routes and shows his pass catching ability. Not to mention what he did against the Atlanta Falcons blocking a punt, Denham has not scratched his ceiling as a football player. The practice squad and getting Denham on it, at this point, is a no brainer for the Texans.