After the final cuts are announced, the 53-man roster is finalized and the depth chart is set, the announcement of players claimed or added to the Houston Texans practice squad can seem kind of anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the practice squad can be important for an immediate plan after injuries or if a player just isn’t working out.
Little does the average fan recall that Arian Foster was cut and sent to the practice squad for almost an entire season before getting his opportunity when called up to the big leagues. Case Keenum spent all of 2012 on the crew and used it as an opportunity to get better and make the final roster this year.
The point is, just because a player is stashed on the practice squad doesn’t mean they’ll never see an NFL roster. Yes, most of them will never see playing time at the next level, but it has happened recently for this franchise. So let’s take a closer look at who the team decided to keep on board.
At running back, Dennis Johnson was claimed by Cleveland, so the team decided to keep on Ray Graham, who has talent and just hasn’t regained the explosion he had before his injury. It’s no surprise they’d want to keep him around in case of injury, of if Cierre Wood doesn’t work out like they had hoped.
Andy Cruse and Ez Nwachukwu were kept at wide receiver, basically taking the role of Jeff Maehl to be the next man up if there is an opening. The team liked both guys and had to be thrilled they went unclaimed. I could see either one getting a call up later this season, even if it’s just to help out on special teams.
Tyler Clutts was claimed by Miami after their failed pursuit of Vonta Leach. So, Houston decided to keep Zach Boren on, and he could be the heir apparent when Greg Jones‘ time is up on this roster.
Probably the biggest surprise was that Roc Carmichael passed through unclaimed and decided to stay on with Houston after talking with a few other teams. Going from the final 53 last year to the practice squad has to be a real slap in the face, but he needs to embrace it and get better. He could be back on the roster by the end of the season in a special circumstance.
Alex Kupper is the only offensive lineman to make the squad as the 53-man roster is loaded at the position. His versatility to play a couple of positions on the line are what kept him around. However, either Cody White or Andrew Gardner are the likely candidates to be cut after Antonio Smith returns from his one-game suspension, so his stay might be in jeopardy.
I wasn’t as surprised as others when Chris Jones was waived, but I was when he was claimed by Tampa. Thus, it left a spot for Keith Browner on the squad.
Finally, at linebacker, Mike Mohammed was kept after Ja’Gared Davies decided that he’d have a better shot at making it to the NFL through New England and signed with their practice squad. Mohammed knows the scheme, and I could see a scenario in which we see him up before the end of the year.
Again, no one but the really hardcore fans pay any attention to things like the practice squad or even the 48-53 men on a final roster. But with a franchise showing the willingness to promote from within and give undrafted guys a shot, fans should remember these names. Chances are better than not that we will hear them at the next level again.