It's the time of year that all coaches despise, trimming the rosters down to the final 53 players. Despite all of the hard work and friendships forged, it's an inevitable part of the preseason. And even though we've gone from, "Coach needs to see you. Bring your playbook," to "Coach needs to see you. Bring your iPad," some things will always remain the same. Names are made and hearts are broken. Careers are born, ended and, for some lucky enough, given a chance to prosper elsewhere.
At 3:30 on Saturday, the Texans finally reached their decision on their final 53. Here are some of the eyebrow raisers and obvious choices for the 2013 Houston Texans 53(+1) man roster:
Cody White - Cody White was cut from the roster in 2012 but did manage to fill the very last practice squad spot that same year. He was activated mid season to avoid a potential pickup by the Carolina Panthers. There's been little talk of him but he did get play time in all four games. There wasn't much in particular that stood out during his game appearances, but with the Texans taking five guards over each of the last two seasons, I suppose they were just keeping with tradition. However, White's size, speed and versatility at the position could prove helpful to the team, especially considering that our OLine has had trouble staying healthy the last few years.
Andrew Gardner - It's been a while since the Texans ended a season with more than three tackles on their team. You'd have to go back to 2009. Andrew Gardner should've been a casualty of sheer numbers, this being his third year on the team. The Texans chose to break with the last two years' tradition and carry 10 offensive linemen for 2013, perhaps due to depth considering past injuries. Either way, it earned Gardner a spot with the final 53, for now.
Three QBs - As much as I disagree with this move because I feel it's somewhat of a waste of a roster spot, it seemed all but certain. So unless you've been living under a rock or in a soundproof cave with earplugs on, you've heard about the "battle" for the number 2 quarterback spot going on between Case Keenum and T.J. Yates. There were some rumblings that the Texans would only go with two QBs on the final 53 and putting one on the practice squad, keeping in line with last year's roster to help with depth elsewhere. But with both of the young QBs stepping up and playing equally well throughout the entire preseason (Yates: 35/50, 4 TDs, 0 INTs; Keenum: 43/63, 3 TDs, 0 INTs), the decision was easy. Keep them both. There was no way either of them were clearing waivers and if Matt Schaub gets injured, I suppose they don't want to relive the quarterback situation like the 2011 season.
Ed Reed Active off PUP List - Was anyone really doubting this would happen? With speculation that he could be ready as early as week 1, there was no way we were having him sit out for six weeks.
Cierre Wood - How is it the Texans keep hitting UDFA gold? With running backs, no less. This kid absolutely balled, particularly in the Dallas game. Wood finished the preseason with 191 rushing yds. off 35 attempts, averaged 5.5 yds. per carry, and had 5 receptions for 49 yds. He literally left the competition in his dust.
Surprise or No-Brainer? You decide:
Bryan Braman - Everyone and their dog thought this guy was gone. Everyone except me. I would've been genuinely shocked if he was cut from the 53. Braman has been a great special teams guy, a place we're particularly weak. Unfortunately, that's all he's ever been. However, I think he showed his versatility by making plays when he was given the chance. The only person who had more sacks than him was Trevardo Williams. He finished with 3 sacks, 6 tackles and 4 assists during his time in the preseason. Granted, this was against 2nd and 3rd string players, but again Braman made plays when given the opportunity and isn't that the point of preseason play? Then again, had Williams not been placed on IR, things probably would've ended differently.
The Texans still have a bit of intrigue left in deciding their final roster due to the fact that technically speaking they currently have 54 players. With Antonio Smith being suspended, he does not count against the 53. When he returns after week one, the team will have to make one final cut.
My guess for who's on the chopping block? Andrew Gardner. Like I said, he was always right there on the edge of being cut this year and probably has a better chance of clearing waivers to make the practice squad than any of the other potential bubble players. Some people think it might be Eddie Pleasant, but in my opinion he has made an impression on the team and the Texans have had 5 safeties on their roster the past two years. Plus, with Ed Reed's ability to stay healthy the entire season still in question, I don't see them cutting those numbers down to four. We'll find out soon enough.
One thing we do know for sure is that the regular season starts in just seven, long, agonizing days.