With just two games left in the Houston Texans‘ 2013 preseason, things are starting to materialize at each position between who is becoming a safe bet to stick on the final 53-man roster and who is likely to be unemployed the first week of September.
With this in mind, I’ll be monitoring the progress of numerous positions this week to gauge who is in the lead to win a job and who could be looking at having theirs stolen. Today, we continue with the wide receiver position.
As with all things with this team, everything depends upon health. Many, myself included, had begun to doubt if future Hall of Famer Andre Johnson could stay on the field for a full season anymore. But at 31 years of age, he had statistically his best season as a pro with just under 1,600 receiving yards on 112 receptions and playing almost every game. Turning 32 a month ago, finally having some help might just prolong his career.
The aforementioned help is in first round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins, who was named the starter opposite Johnson from the moment he stepped onto the field at team OTAs. Since then, he has impressed coaches, media and fans alike. Up until his unexpected concussion in the second preseason game, most were finding little to not be excited about in the young prospect. I don’t expect we’ll see too much of him the rest of preseason as a precaution, but his position is locked in.
After Hopkins and Andre, it’s pretty much an open field. Second year man Keshawn Martin is actually hanging onto the ball this go around in camp and preseason, and the conventional wisdom is that he is penciled in as the slot receiver on the depth chart. The miraculous recovery from a ruptured Achilles just seven months ago for DeVier Posey does little to change that.
Posey was activated yesterday from the PUP list and is said to have looked so good in practice there is even talk of getting him some reps in the game this Sunday. It sounds like crazy talk, but if a doctor has given him the release for contact, why not? He still has a ways to go before creeping up to take Martin’s spot for now. Since no one even expected him to start the season on the active roster, this means someone is going to be the odd man out.
It is highly unlikely this team carries six wide receivers, so that leaves six guys in camp to battle for one last spot if the first four are Johnson, Hopkins, Martin and Posey.
The easy answer would be that Lestar Jean would win the final spot. He knows the playbook, is entering his third year and isn’t having a terrible preseason. However, he’s had a hard time staying healthy and we have seen his ceiling at this point. If you ask me for a prediction, I’d say Jean is the fifth guy. But I don’t think that is set in stone yet when you have a drafted player still waiting to make his presence felt.
A lot of stories out of camp are about how high the potential is for rookie Alan Bonner. But we haven’t seen anything other than how he has looked in camp drills as he has been nursing an injury for weeks. It’s a tired statement, but can’t make the club from the tub is still true. Especially for a sixth-round rookie that is just 5-foot-10.
The rest of the guys like Uzoma Nwachukwu, Andy Cruse and Mike Smith never really had much of a shot to begin with. Alec Lemon is still being talked about a lot, but I see him replacing Jeff Maehl as the guy who is too good to be on the practice squad but not good enough to stick at the next level.
In the end, once a position of Johnson and just some dudes has become one of depth and strength if Hopkins is the truth like we all think he is and Posey doesn’t suffer any setbacks. These are good problems to have.