Meet and Greet: The Texans Practice Squad
Patrick D. Starr
The cuts and claims appear to be done for the time being and the Houston Texans have set their 53 active roster and their practice squad for the 2012 season.
Even though they are not on the active team, they are still an important part of the team and could still be vital options later in the season. Last season was a prime example how the practice squad came into play when eight players were signed to the active squad during the season.
A new year and new names, the Texans have put together a solid group of young players that could see themselves with the Texans for years to come.
Meet The Squad
Jonathan Grimes (Running Back) 5-10, 209 lbs.
If you have been following the site, there should be no question on how we feel about Grimes being back with the Texans. Luckily, the New York Jets ran out of room on their roster after all of their claims went through because the Jets put a claim in on Grimes shortly after he was waived. Grimes, since the first day of camp, impressed and only got better with the Texans offensive system as each day passed. Well suited to run the football, Grimes actually made another big impression with his ability to play special teams.
Hopefully, other teams will keep their hands off of Grimes during the season so he could possibly help in the 2013 season, especially with a big decision coming up on Ben Tate's future in Houston. His time on the practice squad will be used perfecting his craft and maybe sooner than later could find himself on the active squad before the year is out.
David Hunter (Defensive Lineman) 6-2, 303 lbs.
One of two Houston Cougars who made the Texans practice squad, Hunter was steady with his play throughout the preseason. Not a pass rushing threat, yet Hunter's true value lies in what he can do against the run. He played both defensive end and nose tackle on the defensive line but almost looks more comfortable at the nose tackle position. He is a big bodied player who actually shed some weight during the off-season to get to 303 lbs., but his ability to hold up against the run is what makes Hunter an intriguing player.
He didn't have many flashy plays but was consistent with his technique and stayed after practice many of times with veteran Antonio Smith to work on many aspects of his game to get better. Very little news surrounded Hunter, but his hard work paid off and he gets to stay in his hometown with his hometown team.
Case Keenum (Quarterback) 6-1, 209 lbs.
If there was a rookie that had more hype on him coming into camp, it had to be Keenum. Despite not being drafted, the media crush was on him every day after practice to see how things were going, and he was more popular than the majority of the drafted rookies. Keenum seemed to catch Head Coach Gary Kubiak's attention and was rewarded with what he did during practice with a practice squad invitation.
At times, it seemed like Trindon Holliday was Keenum's worst enemy because Holliday's big returns in the preseason took snaps away from Keenum. Keenum didn't finish up the preseason against the Minnesota Vikings like he wanted to and he was visibly upset in the lockeroom after the game.
Keenum needs to get stronger, but the smarts to run the offense is there. His mobility is also a nice attribute that could help him be more than a practice squad quarterback in the coming years.
Jeff Maehl (Wide Receiver) 6-0, 185 lbs.
Forced into action his rookie season, Maehl appeared in three games for the Texans in 2011, mainly on special teams. Maehl is a smart player that is very highly thought of by wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey and Coach Kubiak, and he gets another shot to develop as a wide receiver. Maehl will be one of the favorites within the coming seasons to slide into the wide receiver group with the possible end coming to Kevin Walter's tenure with the Texans.
He is not a vertical threat, but his ability to work out of the slot and contribute on special teams is a good combination to have to make the Texans roster. Maehl will have to gain more confidence catching across the middle because a few times in practice and in preseason he had a few issues.
Phillip Supernaw (Tight End) 6-5, 250 lbs.
The competition for the practice squad invite was between Supernaw and Logan Brock, and it was probably a closer competition than people realized. Supernaw is a raw player who can both block and catch the ball, but he was also a special teams demon in the coverage game. At 6-5, Supernaw is a big target and it looks like he could put on some more weight to help him with the inline blocking part of his game.
Either way, Supernaw was impressive enough to make the Texans practice squad, and he fits the mold of what Kubiak likes in that position group. He possesses a good foundation of size and speed that could be developed for bigger things for his future with the Texans. The Katy, Texas native and Ouachita Baptist graduate has made his hometown team and opened a big opportunity for his NFL career.
Eddie Pleasant (Safety) 5-10, 210 lbs.
"Eddie P." as his teammates call him, was one of the top undrafted rookies coming to Houston for camp from Oregon. He has a good combination of tackling and coverage skills that the Texans could not pass up. He displayed his knack for playing close to the line of scrimmage during the preseason and tackle consistently inside the box. In the last preseason game against the Vikings, he had an interception that showed off his complete skill set.
If there is one player who would get promoted from the practice squad first, it would be Pleasant. The play of Pleasant made the departure of Nolan that much easier to stomach. Shiloh Keo is on the team for his special teams value, Pleasant would be up in a heartbeat if one of the top three safeties go down. Keep Pleasant in the back of your head because he could be one of the safties on the active roster before we know it.
Delano Johnson (Outside Linebacker) 6-4, 280 lbs.
One of three outside linebackers brought in the undrafted free agency route, "Lo" Johnson was not just a pass rusher but a complete player from the outside. At 280 lbs., Johnson showed that he could set the edge in the run game and also rush the passer when needed. Not as quick as his counterparts, Johnson has the body frame and mentality to possibly be more than just a practice squad player.
Johnson has one of the more inspiring stories but the Bowie State graduate is not taking his time in Houston for granted. Johnson was not well-known at the beginning of preseason but he will definitely be a new player for Texans' fans to root for.
Cody White (Offensive Lineman) 6-1, 303 lbs.
Undrafted out of Illinois State, White was a late addition to the practice squad, but the versatile lineman signed early Monday afternoon. White was buried in the depth chart, but against the Minnesota Vikings he played both center and guard during that game which was surprising.
White played majority of the guard position during camp, but showed his versatility being the center for Case Keenum late in the Vikings' game. A former tight end in college, White has the skills set that the Texans coaching staff likes in their offensive lineman. White is definitely a developmental player, but more time in the Texans system could make him a viable option in the future.