The Houston Texans wrap up their preseason slate tonight against the Minnesota Vikings at Reliant Stadium. While the majority of starters will sit this one out, this still may constitute as the most important game of the preseason. The final roster cutdowns are looming, as rosters must be reduced from the current 75 players to the final 53 on Friday. Many players who are on the bubble will have their final chance to showcase themselves tonight, and for a select few a good performance could be the difference between making the team and meeting ‘The Turk’ come Friday.
Cutdown day is never easy, for players and coaches alike. With more depth and talented players than they have ever had, this year’s final cuts will be especially hard for the coaches. Of the 22 players who are released tommorrow, some will be able to be placed on the 8 man practice squad provided that they are eligible for it and not signed by another team. Here are 5 players who are trying to make the team that I will be watching tonight.
QB John Beck - Beck, whom the Texans signed this offseason as a free agent, will be the starting QB tonight with both Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates resting and watching from the sidelines. Beck is trying to win the 3rd QB spot behind Schaub and Yates. He has to make the final 53 man roster in order to stick with the team, as he is not eligible for the practice sqaud. Beck is a 5 year veteran who has started 7 NFL games. He is familiar with the Texans offense, having played the last 2 seasons in a similar system under Mike Shanahan with the Washington Redskins. In his one appearance this preseason at the Carolina Panthers, Beck was impressive in completing 4-6 passes for 46 yards and leading a TD drive. He will play the entire 1st half tonight and a similar showing will probably clinch the 3rd QB spot for him.
QB Case Keenum – Keenum, the fan favorite and the NCAA’s all time leading passer while at the University of Houston is trying to make the team as an undrafted free agent. He will play the entire 2nd half against the Vikings. This will also be his most extensive work of the preseason, as he has played only 2 series thus far. Keenum is 3-6 for 53 yards this preseason. In both games he played in the Texans were up in the 4th quarter and mostly running the ball to work the clock. Tonight he will get the chance to lead some sustained drives and throw the ball around some. If he is unable to overtake Beck in the coaches eyes, Keenum will be a candidate to be on the practice squad if another team does not snap him up.
WR Devier Posey – Posey, the Texans 3rd round draft choice this season out of Ohio St. will probably get more snaps than any other Texan tonight. He missed last week’s game at the New Orleans Saints with a strained calf muscle and has yet to catch a pass this preseason. Look for Posey to play at least three quarters and for Beck and Keenum to look his way early and often. Posey is pretty much a lock to make the team as the 5th WR, but the coaches would love to see him make some plays. Fellow young wideouts LeStar Jean and Keshawn Martin have been impressive this preseason and have all but locked up the 3rd and 4th WR spots. Posey will have a chance to make his impression tonight, and I’m looking forward to watching him and feel he will have a big game tonight.
CB Brandon Harris – Harris, the Texans 2nd round pick in the 2011 draft, has been outstanding in camp and preseason. He has shown tremendous growth from his rookie season, in which he was inactive for 9 games and played mostly special teams. He is a virtual lock to make the team, so he will be looking to solidify his standing in the cornerback rotation tonight. This season, with the departure of CB Jason Allen the Cincinnati Bengals, he will get the chance to get some snaps in the secondary, especially if he continues to perform well. The Texans traded up to select Harris in 2011, and this preseason he has made that look like a smart move.
RB Jonathan Grimes – Grimes, an undrafted free agent out of William & Mary has also impressed the coaches during training camp and the preseason. A long shot to make the team when camp started, he has shown flashes of being both a good runner in the Texans’ zone scheme and a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield. His emergence has made it likely that the Texans keep 4 RBs on the active roster, as Grimes would be on the depth chart behind Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Justin Forsett. If they keep 4 RBs, that might mean they keep one less player at another position. Grimes is also a candidate for the practice squad, but the Texans would be taking a chance if they cut him. With the work he has put on film this preseason, the likelihood of another team signing him would be high. I look for him to have a nice game tonight and clich his spot on this Houston Texans team.