We take a look at the possible roster the Houston Texans will take to the 2020 NFL regular season on offense and special teams.
The Houston Texans are expected to take the practice field soon, as the NFL has scheduled teams to start training camp towards the end of the month.
However, the possibility of training camp and preseason remains up in the air after Texas has become one of the states most affected by the ongoing pandemic.
Whether the Texans have a preseason or not, there are several interesting decisions they will have to make for the final roster. Here is the best outlook the Texans can make on the roster before the start of training camp.
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Houston Texans Offense:
Deshaun Watson, A.J. McCarron
The Texans are running it back with their two top quarterbacks from last season.
Houston added two talented quarterbacks in Nick Tiano and Alex McGough, but with the preseason still up in the air, it remains to be seen if they will have the chance to push for a spot on the active roster. The practice squad remains a possibility for the younger signal-callers to learn and develop behind the veterans in the quarterback room.
Running Back/Fullback (4):
David Johnson, Duke Johnson, Gregory Howell, Cullen Gillaspia
There is a calculated risk behind these roster moves. The Texans have generally gone with four running backs under Bill O’Brien as head coach, but there is a lack of proven talent outside the first three options on the running back depth chart. Houston had intentions of re-signing Taiwan Jones to be their fourth back on the roster again, but he opted to return to the Buffalo Bills on a one-year deal in free agency.
Karan Higdon and Scottie Phillips offer their own intrigue; however, their limited experience could lead Houston to comfortably proceed with only three backs to start the season if they wish to use that potential roster spot for another position. An essential element of having that fourth running back on the roster is to have a player that can contribute on offense and play on special teams.
Cullen Gillaspia proved to be a reliable role player in his rookie season and could be on the final roster if the Texans opt to employ a fullback once again. The fullback position is a dying breed in the NFL, but Gillaspia could continue to stay on the roster if he can expands his role on offense, along with his contributions on special teams.
Wide Receivers (5):
Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, Isaiah Coulter
There are no significant surprises on this list, with the exception that Keke Coutee doesn’t make the final roster. The former 2018 fourth-rounder is nearing a similar fate that Braxton Miller faced in his third year in the league after being drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Coutee is a more polished and talented player than Miller, but he was a healthy scratch for the majority of his second season with the Texans in 2019.
Coutee’s time in Houston could very well come to an end if he is unable to reverse course. He will have to show the coaching staff that he still has plenty of untapped upside for the Texans to keep him on the last two years of his rookie deal. The additions of Randall Cobb and Isaiah Coulter don’t bode well for Coutee, but he could also use the opportunity to learn from a savvy veteran like Cobb if he stays on the roster.
Tight Ends (4):
Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, Kahale Warring
It makes a lot of sense for the Texans to go with their traditional three tight ends into the regular season, but they broke that mold last season after spending the majority of the season with four to five on the active roster.
Keeping a fourth tight end on the roster makes sense for the long term with Darren Fells only re-signing to a two-year deal. It would be foolish for the Texans to get rid of one of their promising young players at this position with Fells turning 34 this offseason.
It could pay great dividends for the Texans to continue to develop their raw yet talented players in Kahale Warring and Jordan Thomas behind the scenes; meanwhile, Fells serves as the bridge for the younger tight ends.
Offensive Tackles (4):
Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, Charlie Heck, Roderick Johnson
There aren’t a lot of surprises in this positional group. Tunsil, Howard, and Heck are three players the Texans have invested assets in so they can help the state of the offensive tackle position.
Houston has other intriguing options in David Steinmetz, Rick Leonard, Kyle Murphy, and Elijah Nkansah, but Roderick Johnson is the fourth and final tackle that makes the roster due to his experience in the Texans’ offensive scheme compared to the other players at his position.
Interior Offensive Linemen (5):
Max Scharping, Zach Fulton, Brent Qvale, Nick Martin, Greg Mancz
There are no real surprises in this list, except for Brent Qvale, who was added in free agency. A player like Qvale normally has a small chance of making the final roster on just a one-year deal, but he joined Houston with the common background of working with Texans offensive line coach Mike Devlin in New York.
Qvale makes a lot more sense for Houston as the backup guard than Senio Kelemete, who is more expensive of an option to be backing up both the starters in Max Scharping and Zach Fulton. Injuries have been prevalent in Kelemete’s time in Houston, so his spot on the roster is on thin ice moving into this season.
Keeping Kelemete could be an option that opens up down the road if he decides to rework his contract, similar to how Fulton did with his deal earlier in the offseason.
Houston Texans Special Teams:
Special Teams (4):
Ka’imi Fairbairn, Bryan Anger, Jon Weeks, DeAndre Carter
There are no real surprises with this group after the Texans re-signed all four of their special teamers to contract extensions.
Weeks remains the favorite to retain his job over Anthony Kukwa, and Carter remains the man to beat to return kicks despite his issues with ball security. Carter has shown glimpses of being a reliable receiver on offense, but he will make his bread in the league by continuing to improve his craft as a returner on special teams.
Carter finished 10th in 2018 with an average of 9.6 yards return per punt and was third overall in the league with 9.7 yards in 2019. Carter remains the best returner for the Texans despite having six of his seven fumbles on special teams since joining the team in the middle of the 2018 season.
Carter will have to clean up those mistakes heading into this season to maintain his role as the returner on special teams.