If you missed any of the previous roster rundowns, check them out here. Do it now, before the oil spill destroys the Internet:
Bernard Pollard – It’s been said over and over, and it’s absolutely true. Bernard Pollard came in last year after being cut by the Chiefs, and made about the most immediate impact I’ve ever seen from one single football player. Sure, a lot of the Texans’ turnaround last year had to do with Brian Cushing getting some game experience after missing the preseason, and the team getting used to Frank Bush’s new system – but Pollard injected the team with some Swaggitude™ that seemed to last the rest of the season. All Pollard has to do now, is avoid the dreaded curse of the Modern Male, Will Demps. Demps came in a few years back, played surprisingly well, got a new contract – and promptly turned into a pumpkin. A super-sexy, hat turned sideways pumpkin with a bluetooth.
Pollard is an instant fan favorite, and the first Texan safety that actually instills a little bit of fear in opposing players. He settled for his RFA tender this offseason, giving him only a one year deal, and he did it without much complaining. So, 2010 will be (another) contract year for Pollard. Can we keep him Rick? Huh? Huh? Can we keep him?
Eugene Wilson – Wilson holds the title of “far and away the best free safety in Texans history” but we all know that’s like saying “best Martin Scorsese movie since Goodfellas,” or “best Metallica album since the Black Album.” Wilson is just a guy at this point of his career, but if he can stay healthy, he and Pollard can be a decent safety tandem. Unfortunately, Wilson hasn’t been able to stay healthy and the guys filling in for him have left much to be desired.
I’m very much of the opinion that in professional sports, it’s better to let a guy go a year too early than a year too late, whether by trade or outright release. I’m kind of afraid that the sun has set on Wilson and that if he’s healthy he’s still just not going to be very good. If I’m wrong and he stays healthy – we might actually be in decent shape at the position – but I still think the Texans should have drafted a safety at least in the middle rounds.
Dominique Barber – Barber’s a tough nut to crack. He looked good as a rookie, at least enough to have instilled a lot of confidence in the coaches, but to this point has only been able to grab some spot starts. With Pollard in the mix, Barber figures to remain a backup. If Wilson goes down again, Barber is capable of spot starting, but to this point Barber has been too inconsistent to make any of us feel safe, were he to step in as a starter because of injury. One bright spot is that before he was placed on injured reserve last year, Gary Kubiak had said he was playing the best ball of his pro career. The same can’t be said for his not-so-good start to 2009, so clearly he did improve over the course of his second season.
Troy Nolan – Nolan is of course a huge question mark. Drafted in the 7th round in 2009, Nolan spent his entire rookie season on the sideline with a broken hand (*cough*IR stash*COUGHcough*). We really have nothing to go on with Nolan, but he’s a guy who might be worth keeping an eye on in camp and preseason. Hopefully he used his injury time to know the playbook inside and out and nail down the mental side of the game. If not, then what good is he?
So what we have here are two NFL safeties in the entire position group, one who has been inconsistent with a limited ceiling, a guy who
was an IR stash missed his entire rookie season with an injury, and three undrafted rookie free agents.
Hm. Hm, I say. Seems like a lot of patchwork for a position that is one injury away from having Pollard/Barber or Wilson/Barber as the starters. Not the most encouraging of the roster rundowns, is it?
What I expect
What I expect? What I expect is to be freaking terrified all season long until 1) Eugene Wilson stays healthy and remains effective and/or 2) Dominique Barber proves to be a capable backup and a continually-improving spot starter. I do not think Pollard is Will Demps 2.0. Pollard likes to hurt people. Demps.. well, Demps likes to get half-naked and have dudes take pictures of him.
*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.