March 22, 2018

The Bubble Situation

The clock is ticking on the final 53 man roster for the Houston Texans which is due August 31st across the NFL, with the practice squad the following day. With the first cuts announced and with no real big surprises with the initial releases, the ugly part of NFL life is coming up.

There will be 22 players in the unemployment line heading into the weekend, with a possibility of 8 of those players being signed to the practice squad. There is always a surprise cut to be announced and other players to be scouted for the active or practice squads from those released from other NFL teams.

With the preseason drawing to an end and jobs to be won, we are going to look at current Texans’ players on the bubble when it comes to cut down day.



Bubbles to be Popped?


Alan Ball (Cornerback, #36)

If you have been watching Ball in the secondary the past three preseason games, you can see that he is struggling to make a real difference in a pretty solid secondary. Ball has been mediocre in coverage and was made to look bad in the New Orleans game when he missed an open tackle that led to a big catch and run. There has been speculation from many writers that Ball is a shoe in to make the team with his connection to Wade Phillips from their Dallas days. We really don’t see why he would be an option to be on this team, but with his veteran status in a young position group the staff just might keep him around.


Roc Carmichael (Cornerback, #20)

It was a case of the bad luck for Carmichael last week against the Saints with a bad pass interference call and a great pass and catch on him for a touchdown late in the game. Carmichael has the makings to be a nice player in the NFL but the year spent on the injured reserve put him behind in terms of learning the NFL game. One thing he has to do is become more physical in run support and overall in his tackling, and he has struggled some in that department. We feel Ball and Carmichael are tied to each other, where one will make it and the other is going to be released. Hopefully the younger player is the one the Texans show patience with.


Moran Norris (Fullback, #40)

We are not convinced the job is his, even with the release of his competition in the first round of cuts. His snaps have been limited, especially with the first offensive group, and he has done little to impress in our eyes. He looks slow and lacks real pop to move any defender out of the hole, but his football I.Q. might keep him on the roster. There will be plenty of fullbacks released in the coming days and having James Casey might buy the Texans a small window to catch a potential player up to speed. Norris hasn’t shown much in the first three games and we are not convinced he is a lock for the opening week one roster.


Shiloh Keo (Safety, #31)

We have him making our final 53 man roster but something tells me a numbers game might make him a casualty. Keo does hold value as a player with his ability to play safety in a pinch and contribute on all of the special teams units (better than average), plus return kicks. He is the fifth safety on the depth chart at the current moment and doesn’t seem to be moving from that spot. He has improved as a player this preseason, but the numbers game might sneak up on him. The rise of Trindon Holliday or Jonathan Grimes could spell doom for Keo when final cuts come Friday.


Jesse Nading (Linebacker, #72) 

If you have been paying attention to the Texans, you have seen Nading lineup at inside and outside linebacker. Also you have seen him on the majority of the special teams units and most of all making plays. One of the smarter players for the Texans, Nading brings a great work ethic to the field. There are times were Nading brings more to the defense than Bryan Braman, but is not nearly as athletically gifted as Braman. Nading deserves a spot, but where is another question and not an option to move to the practice squad, it is all or nothing for Nading in 2012.


John Beck (Quarterback, #12)

Beck was brought in for a veteran presence and to take over the number three quarterback job. Enter rookie Case Keenum, who has progressively gotten better since the first day of camp and has now made the race for the third quarterback an interesting one. The majority of the work has been done on the practice field for Beck with a small glimpse of him in the first preseason game where he looked decent for his first time out. It looks like he will get a full half of football to impress the coaches one more time before the final decision is made. If Beck can out perform his competition in Keenum on gameday, expect the nod to go to Beck.  If there is no real difference in performance, Keenum might be able to sneak onto the roster.


Earl Mitchell (Nose Tackle, #92)

Mitchell has been serviceable as a nose tackle for the Texans the past season, but despite his added weight he is still not holding up against the run like he should. He has been used on passing downs in the preseason, but expect Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, Whitney Mercilus, Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt to get those snaps in nickel and dime situations to rush the passer. With that said, Mitchell’s primary position is to hold up against the run, which he is not the best at. There is a cheaper option behind him in Hebron Fangupo who actually looks better against the run than Mitchell. I know this may seem far fetched, but with contracts coming up and money to be trimmed it would not be a shocker if the Texans went the cheaper option. The only saving grace for Mitchell might be Shaun Cody’s back, but having Cody and Fangupo for the season might provide some real run stuffers that are fresh from play to play.



You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans and is a draft analyst on Sideline Scouting.



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