The NFL’s preseason games may not always be a visual treat for fans and coaches, but to the existence of hundreds of players, they can mean the life or death of their careers.
As with their 31 rivals, the Houston Texans will use the next three games to reduce their roster to the final 53 while keeping an eye on potential members of the training team.
Given the huge turnover of players this off-season, it’s a much shorter list of who is safe than who is at risk. Hence, there are dozens of players who need a strong preseason if they are hoping to get into the squad or are aiming for a bigger role.
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Of course, there are always a few that stand out as borderline decisions since the Texans are in Green Bay for the NFL preseason opener on Friday.
WR – Isaiah Coulter
Coulter was a Texans five-round pick in 2020 and was a virtual non-entity in his rookie season. The 6’2 “receiver only played six snaps in a game last year. What makes his position even more frightening were the additions of similarly sized receivers Chris Conley, Chris Moore and Jordan Veasy to the free agency while Houston was drafting Nico Collins rise.
TE – Kahale Warring
It’s easy to love Warring, the ‘View’. He has the size, athleticism, stature and all-round agility that you rarely see in tight ends. However, having essentially redshirted his 2019 rookie season, he failed to make an impact in 2020, catching only three out of seven targets for 35 yards.
Now, with a new manager and coaching staff, he has a lot of new people to attract. And since GM Nick Caserio brought the veteran tight ends Antony Auclair and Ryan Izzo and drafted Brevin Jordan, Warring is currently fourth on the unofficial depth table and still has a lot to do.
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EN – Jonathan Greenard
Greenard, a sophomore player, should absolutely not face the risk of being cut. He showed lightning bolts in 2020 but didn’t make a big impact if he started just one game and recorded a sack and 19 combined tackles.
Thankfully, this new 4-3 scheme and his move on the defensive should both work in his favor.
The former third-round pick is currently at the bottom of the depths table and with a new defensive coordinator this is his chance to cement his position as a key element of this new defensive early on.
DT – Ross Blacklock
You could essentially cut and paste what was said about Greenard for Blacklock, who had as many tackles to the loss as he knocked out his rookie year (1). Blacklock was Houston’s highest draft pick just a year ago and as such should logically be safe.
Blacklock should feel more comfortable in this new scheme and is entering his sophomore year in great shape. But he’s behind Brandon Dunn and Maliek Collins in the depth chart, and here again he’ll surely want to force coordinator Lovie Smith’s hand and give him a prominent role in the long run.
C – Ryan McCollum
Yes, it is uncommon to include a free agent that has not been created on this list. But there is logic.
Houston currently has veterans Justin Britt and Cole Toner on the depth map ahead of McCollum. Both have one-year contracts; Britt is recovering from a serious injury and has not played since 2019, Toner has only had three career starts.
In theory, Britt looks like a likely starter, but for now the backup spot should be fair game and maybe it will be the starter role in the long run.
If McCollum ever wanted a real chance at making some significant reps in the NFL, Houston could be his best chance. And the “shots” will start in Green Bay next Friday.
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