Matt Schaub – Your Pro Bowl MVP silenced the critics that said he was brittle and injury-prone. He’s a top-ten NFL QB.
Dan Orlovsky – The acquisition of Orlovsky was met with a great deal of skepticism, and he only served to justify that skepticism when he was handily beat out for the #2 job last year by Rex Grossman. Dan-O needs to show some serious improvement in the preseason if he’s even going to begin to justify the fat checks the Texans are cutting him.
John David Booty – Signed a reserve/future contract with the team in January. Sadly, he could actually compete with, and win, the backup QB job in camp if Orlovsky stinks it up again.
*Tyler Sheehan – Strictly a developmental pick. It will be a HUGE longshot for him to even make the practice squad.
What I expect
Orlovsky doesn’t improve much in the preseason, but it’s enough to keep Booty off the final 53-man.
Steve Slaton – We are all hoping against hope for a big bounceback year for Stevie Wonder. I don’t think Steve is done, but I do think the maximum we can expect at this point is for him to be a dangerous 3rd down weapon and change-of-pace guy. I am of the opinion that his neck injury is a bigger deal than it was made to be. He will have a lot of ground to make up.
Arian Foster – Showed a lot of promise as a rookie, but I’m not getting caught up in all of that. He may continue to build on what he accomplished last year, or he might be Chris Taylor 2.0 in the way that he had a very short burst showing of potential, but never worked out. Gary Kubiak hinted around that Foster had some work habit issues last year. Hopefully now that he’s no longer a rookie, those issues will disappear.
Ben Tate – Who’s NOT excited about Tate? This guy is a tough, physical runner – a quality the Texans have coveted in a running back for going on a year now. Hopefully he will be able to step right into the role as a rookie. From all accounts he has the ability to be an every-down back in this league, and that’s what I hope the Texans have in mind for him, less a handful of well-placed carries for Slaton.
Ryan Moats – Signed his RFA tender, and many think he will have a hard time making the roster, but if Slaton can’t be depended on, you might need Moats to fill that void since he’s the same type of back as Slaton. The RBs are a VERY young group, and I think there’s value in having a veteran presence out there. Problem with Moats is that I’m sure his stock dropped with the coaches once he started having fumbling issues of his own. Before, he was the less exciting but still speedy RB who had dependable hands. Now, he’s just a fast veteran who could put it on the ground at any time.
Chris Henry – I had been saying for a year that if the Titans cut him loose, we should take a flyer on Henry. Of course, he’s a workout warrior/combine success story who doesn’t translate to a good football player. I’d like to see him get a shot, but he’s much more likely headed for a new city or at best the practice squad.
Jeremiah Johnson – Johnson is the wild card in the Texans’ backfield. He’s the guy I keep forgetting about… we didn’t get a chance to see what he could do last year because of a shoulder injury that ended up making him an IR stash. Johnson’s style is similar to Slaton’s, and he could very easily be poised to take Moats’s roster spot as a second smallish/quick back behind Slaton.
What I expect
I hope it’s Slate & Tate all day but I do think the Texans want a workhorse back there. It might end up being more like Tate & Slate, which is not a bad thing. I think Slaton will improve, but he won’t get the carries to equal what he did in his rookie year. For weeks when the running game is actually working, I like Tate to get around 20 carries per game and Slaton to pull in 5-7, plus he will be the ever-present danger in the receiving game. I honestly think Slaton can be a game-changer in a limited role. He just needs to hold on to the ball. Johnson is the guy I will have my eye on who might surprise. Foster seems like the most obvious and likely candidate to be the 3rd RB.
*Denotes a reported Undrafted Free Agent signing. These players are only reported to have signed with the Texans but as of this entry none of the signings have been confirmed by the team.