The Texans had just beaten the Colts – in Indianapolis for the first time in team history – but Cecil Shorts III was frustrated. When I asked him about how it felt to be in a playoff race it hit him, this was the first time in his career he’d be able to experience what it felt like to be on a playoff caliber team.
Shorts injured his groin in that 16-10 win in Indy, and wouldn’t play in the final two games of the regular season. He was back in uniform for the embarrassing 30-0 loss to the Chiefs at NRG stadium in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Even that bitter taste was satisfying enough that Shorts wanted more. He took a pay cut and watched as Texans GM Rick Smith used the draft to add a pair of wide outs. Friday he found out he was among the final cuts to the 53 man roster.
Along with Akeem Hunt, Shorts could be considered one of the few surprises as Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien finalized the roster the Texans will take into their season opener against the Bears on September 11. In truth, none of the final cuts by the Texans are all that surprising. They’ve made the roster younger and faster, which were the offseason goals following the loss to the Chiefs.
On offense, the Texans will go with three quarterbacks which is probably a nod to the need for at least four starting QB’s in O’Brien’s first two seasons in Houston. How much faith the team has in Tom Savage as the back-up to Brock Osweiler may also play into the decision, but as everyone with any interest in the franchise knows, this season will ride on the outcome of the unproven Osweiler.
At running back, it would appear that Jonathan Grimes beat out Hunt for the final slot. Free agent acquisition Lamar Miller will be the featured back with rookie Tyler Ervin, and last year’s #1 Alfred Blue rounding out the position.
There are some that are surprised that undrafted rookie Stephen Anderson made the line-up at tight end. But considering the complete lack of production from C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin the past two seasons, that Anderson provides hope that a tight end may be able to be included in the passing game production for the Texans was reason enough to keep him on the roster.
OFFENSIVE DEPTH CHART:
QB: Brock Osweiler / Tom Savage / Brandon Weeden
RB: Lamar Miller / Alfred Blue / Jonathan Grimes / Tyler Ervin
FB: Jay Prosch
WR: DeAndre Hopkins / Will Fuller / Jaelen Strong / Braxton Miller / Keith Mumphrey
TE: CJ Fiedorowicz / Ryan Griffin / Stephen Anderson
OT: Duane Brown / Derek Newton / Chris Clark / Kendall Lamm
G: Jeff Allen / Xavier Su’a-Filo / Oday Aboushi
C: Greg Mancz / Tony Bergstrom
Defensively, the offseason was really about adding depth because the starters make up one of the best units in the NFL. Devon Still was impressive early in camp, but once the preseason games began he’s been little more than an inspirational story.
Jadeveon Clowney has provided glimpses of the two things he’s been most recognized for since being the first pick of the 2014 draft. When healthy Clowney shows elite level skill, but he’s seldom been healthy through two seasons. Clowney has missed 16 of 33 games so far in his career and missed significant time this summer with more injuries. Sadly, it’s almost foolish to assume he can stay healthy at this point.
DEFENSIVE DEPTH CHART:
DE: JJ Watt / Devon Still / Christian Covington / Joel Heath
NT: Vince Wilfork / DJ Reader
OLB: Whitney Mercilus / Jadeveon Clowney / John Simon / Brennan Scarlett
ILB: Brian Cushing / Benardrick McKinney / Akeem Dent / Max Bullough / Brian Peters
CB: Kareem Jackson / Jonathan Joseph / Kevin Johnson / AJ Bouye / Charles James
S: Quintin Demps / Andre Hal / Eddie Pleasant / Corey Moore / KJ Dillon
PK: Nick Novak
P: Shane Lechler
LS: Jonathan Weeks
H: Shane Lechler
PR: Tyler Ervin
KR: Tyler Ervin