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Sources: Texans Cutting Pro Bowl Kick Returner Andre Roberts

Purge underway as 1-5 Houston looks to 2022 and beyond

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans are cutting Pro Bowl return specialist Andre Roberts, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.

Roberts was sidelined for the majority of the preseason with a bruised knee that had to be drained. A Pro Bowl selection each of the past three seasons, the veteran speedster had remained remarkably durable and productive into his 12th NFL season.

The release of Roberts continues a sudden purge for the Texans, who have lost their last five games and been outscored in their last two road losses by a combined 71-3. Houston was not competitive in Sunday's 31-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

A season that began with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars is coming apart at the seams. The team held a players-only meeting last week, but the positive effects were difficult to identify in the blowout loss to the Colts.

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Also cut Monday was veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus, the team's longest-tenured player.

Signed by Texans general manager Nick Caserio to a two-year contract with a maximum value of $6.7 million that included a $1 million signing bonus, $2.5 million guaranteed and an annual $100,000 Pro Bowl incentive, Roberts is a former Arizona Cardinals third-round draft pick from The Citadel. He averaged 9.0 yards per punt return for his career prior to this season, with three touchdowns and 25.8 yards per kickoff return with two scores.

Roberts, 33, averaged 30 yards per kickoff return and 9.9 yards per punt return last season for the Buffalo Bills. Roberts has caught 261 career passes for 3,044 yards and 15 touchdowns in 163 games with the Cardinals, Washington, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, Jets and Bills.

Roberts was averaging 4.1 yards per punt return and 21.4 yards per kickoff return with Houston.