As the 2015 season wore on for the Houston Texans, the original 53-man roster could not stay intact due to both injury and performance issues, and normal roster maintenance was needed to get through the season. We take a closer look at the Texans in-season additions, players acquired off another team’s practice squad, claims from the waiver wire, or through free agency, and how these attempts to fortify the roster affected the team.
Overall, the entire group had a positive impact on the Texans. A few of the key additions even helped push the team to an AFC South Championship.
The Texans were in rough shape with their offensive line to start the season. Early injuries to Duane Brown (thumb), Xavier Su’a-Filo (ankle), and Jeff Adams (knee) put the Texans in desperate need for depth at the position.
After Oday Aboushi served his one game suspension for breaking the league substance policy, he was released by the New York Jets. The Texans had his former coach Mike Devlin coaching the offensive line in Houston and Devlin was instrumental in claiming Aboushi and adding him for depth.
Aboushi started right away and was a solid depth addition, contributing until the entire offensive line became healthy. A veteran with key starter experience with the Jets, he was able to come in and work for the Texans and help even out an offensive line in flux. His playing time diminished late in the season but his early contributions helped keep some players in their normal positions.
The preseason darling, Kourtnei Brown was released prior to the season and was claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brown was soon let go by Tampa and placed on their practice squad.
The Texans ran into an injury issue and placed rookie Carlos Thompson on the injured reserve with a wrist injury, which opened up a roster spot. The Texans claimed Brown and added him back to the 53-man roster where he was really just a body on the roster for insurance.
Brown’s uneventful time with the Texans came to an end when Brian Hoyer suffered a concussion and the Texans claimed Brandon Weeden off of waivers.
Easily one of the bigger additions of the season, Brian Peters was brought in off of the Minnesota Vikings practice squad and changed the complexion of the Texans coverage teams. The high level at which he was able to play was demonstrated anytime he was on the field.
He lead the entire team in special teams tackles in only twelve games and helped give others on the special teams unit someone key to follow on the field. Peters emerged as one of the best special teams players in the NFL and his 2015 performance stemmed from one simple claim by the Texans from the Vikings practice squad.
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Brought in as the Texans prepared to release Randy Bullock, the signing of Nick Novak brought the team a steady field goal kicker with limited range on his kicks.
Novak’s accuracy was solid but his lack of leg strength did not help on 50+ yard kicks (40%) and only 64.6% of his kickoffs resulting in touchbacks.
He helped ease the mind of most when kicking field goals but struggled in keeping opposing special teams from having the ability to gain yards on kickoff returns.
The former Chicago Bear was claimed off of their practice squad and inserted into the rotation of the defensive line upon arrival. Brandon Dunn showed some knack for plugging up the run and worked well with rookie Christian Covington in nickel and dime packages for the defense.
There was not much said about Dunn mainly due to where he was on the field, doing the dirty work in the trenches. For a first year player, Dunn showed he can get better with more work and playing time and by the end of the season, he was making plays for the defense during his short tenure. Dunn has a chance to be part of the team moving forward and proved he can be a key piece as a 3 or 5 technique in this defense, but he has to get his weight under control.
The Texans cut Charles James prior to the season despite being a spark plug for the team throughout camp. After being cut, he went to Baltimore and spent time on their practice squad before getting cut prior to a game in San Francisco. The Texans claimed James off waivers and he provided instant energy for a team looking for an identity mid-season.
Put in on special teams, James made an early difference on coverage teams and he brought back the sense of confidence to the locker room which had disappeared after his departure prior to the start of the regular season. James helped rejuvenate the team and eased the environment with his infectious positive attitude. His season was cut short before the playoffs due to a fractured foot on which he played the majority of the season. By season’s end, the foot was completely broken.
James defining moment was when he against the Cincinnati Bengals with a seven tackle game, when he took over the nickel cornerback position because of injuries. With that type of attitude and desire, James helped the Texans late in the season and was a big part of the second half turnaround.
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After Ryan Mallett was released, the Texans went a familiar route by adding Yates as the back up quarterback. T.J. Yates, as he was in his rookie season with the Texans, was instrumental in two key wins, this time over the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets. Those wins proved big in separating the Texans into what would be a playoff appearance.
Much like James, Yates’ presence in the locker room was a welcomed sight and he helped bring back a confidence to a team that needed it. Yates commanded the offense well in his two major wins but was lost for the season when he tore his ACL against the Indianapolis Colts. Yates still struggled with his accuracy as a quarterback but it always felt when the Texans needed a big throw, he was able to deliver. He further expanded the Yates mystique after his second stint with the Texans and really provided a much needed boost late in the season.
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Brandon Weeden was another solid addition by the Texans, and the team also made a solid decision by holding onto Brandon Weeden after Brian Hoyer came back from his concussion. Weeden saved the day, much like Yates did earlier in the season, by guiding the team to victory against the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans.
Weeden has a strong arm and it was something else to see how in command Weeden was of the Texans offense when he ran it. The offense was stripped down when he was the quarterback but he ran it efficiently and took care of the football, which is all a coaching staff asks for.
With the position the Texans were in, being able to get production out of Weeden and for Weeden to step up and put positive results on the film make him an intriguing back up quarterback option if the team wants to bring him back.
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Looking for a boost for the offense, the Texans went after B.J. Daniels to help run the wildcat packages for the offense and also return punts in week 17.
Daniels had a tough time getting settled into his role but the Texans were not afraid to use him early to see if he could handle both the offense and his first real NFL game experience.
The Texans scraped the wildcat look with Daniels for the playoff game, ending the late season experiment but some intrigue remains on what Daniels could be capable with a full offseason and training camp with the Texans.