2013 Houston Texans Pre-Week One Roster Issues

By: Shasky Clarke

The Texans had a relatively ho-hum 2013 preseason, avoiding major injury issues while also not shaking up the expected first team offensive and defensive units. The team has reason for rampant optimism about its star players, but there are minor issues across the roster.

Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and . . . Case Keenum

On the positive side, veteran quarterback Matt Schaub was sharp. Wide receiver Andre Johnson seems to be in All-Pro form, showcasing his trademark speed, separation ability and ball skills. But, overall, the most impressive preseason player was quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum doesn’t have a lot of size, but his grasp of the offense and accuracy was on display as he consistently moved the ball.

Issues

Offensive Line

The issues on the offensive line continue as spotty right tackle Derek Newton is still slated to start. The good news is second-year Brandon Brooks won the right guard spot. But ineffective second-year interior player Ben Jones may still be needed to fill in at left guard as Wade Smith continues to work to return from knee surgery.

Until rookie David Quessenberry broke his leg in practice this week, he appeared to be a great option to eventually fill in or start at guard and tackle. Now, both Texans rookies Quessenberry and tackle Brennan Williams are out for the season, limiting the team’s ability to upgrade the right tackle spot and overall offensive line depth in the near term.

Outside Linebacker

After losing super productive outside linebacker Connor Barwin, the Texans are looking to second-year stud Whitney Mercilus to fill his void in production. Mercilus should be fine but fellow starter Brooks Reed has failed to show the ability to be a double digit sack threat as a speed edge rusher.

The Texans hoped that one of their talented drafted rookies Trevardo Williams and Sam Montgomery would be able to produce in a rotational role, but Williams is now on I.R. and Montgomery has frustrated coaches with his inability to stay on the field. Instead it is 6’6” 235-pound undrafted rookie Willie Jefferson who has flashed throughout the preseason with his quickness around the edge. He and explosive third-year player Bryan Braman are the next men up as rushers.

Nickel Cornerback

Houston is set on the outside with Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph. But inside, Brandon Harris struggled some to lock down slot receivers in man-to-man coverage. Against some of the best teams in the AFC, like Denver and New England, this will be a problem. Brice McCain and rookie undrafted guy A.J. Bouye probably don’t have the ability to be an upgrade there. This will be a key position to watch.

Free Safety

Ed Reed is still battling a hip injury and will most likely miss at least week one. That leaves third year safety Shiloh Keo to be his replacement. Keo’s issue isn’t skill. He has the instincts, open field tackling ability and ball skills. But, while he is smooth and quick, he is not a very fast or explosive athlete and would ideally be best in the box.