I believe this to be the final entry in the series, so again here are the previous Roster Rundowns if you aren’t familiar with the series:
Kris Brown – The NFL is a cruel, unforgiving business. Even the “nicest” organizations have to make moves that seem cutthroat and cold. However, I’m pretty sure that if Kris Brown had been on nearly any other NFL team in 2009, he would have been sent packing prior to week 17. It’s true that Brown is an original Texan (pssshh – but still a kicker), and it’s true that he’s an important piece in the locker room, and an all-around great guy. It’s true that he has been a solid kicker most of his career here, and even enjoyed some time as one of the better kickers in the league for a spell… but let’s be honest here – a bad kicker can ruin a season. I’m not going to come out and say that Brown ruined 2009, but he was certainly as responsible as anyone else.
It’s impossible to say how Brown will do in 2009. Even if he has a great camp and preseason, you really don’t know for sure until everything is for real. I’d like to say I have a gut feeling that Brown will regain his old form, but I just have nothing to back that up. We heard it was a mental issue, we heard it was a mechanical issue. Who knows what the truth is? My guess is – not even Kris Brown knew at the time, but here’s to hoping he has it figured out now.
Neil Rackers – I was about as excited about the acquisition of a kicker as I could possibly be when I heard the Texans reeled in Rackers. Finally, I thought, the Texans have taken a stand and are bringing in some REAL competition at a position that sorely needed it. (In the past, this promise had been made, only to bring in a no-name or an undrafted rookie to compete which I found very disingenuous.) Nope, this time it was Rackers, who has been more consistent, more accurate, and just a flat-out better kicker than Brown for almost his entire career.
What I expect
Brown has the stronger leg, but Rackers is more accurate. If both guys are their “normal selves” in training camp, I’d say Rackers wins the job. Problem is, because of who Kris Brown is and what he’s done, I have no doubt that if there’s a tie – Brown will win. Even if Brown is just a LITTLE behind Rackers, I can see Brown still winning. My opinion: you go with the more accurate guy. I’m not so concerned about having a guy who can kick a 57-yarder as I am concerned about a guy WHO CAN MAKE A @#*^! 38-YARDER MORE OFTEN THAN NOT!!!!!
***GLARES AT CAT***
***SNARLS AT WIFE***
I’ve been calling for competition for Matt Turk for two years, but he just keeps going. He’s not great, but he does do a pretty good job. He’s near the middle of the pack for pinning teams inside the 20, and he’s still in the top half of the league in net yards per punt (he’s number 10, actually). Turk was also third in the league in 2009 in fewest punt returns allowed (by percentage). Conclusion – I need to lay off Turk. I’m still mad at him for his attempt at turning football into The Benny Hill Show against San Diego in 2007. I need to let it go. Just….. let it…. go…..
Jon Weeks Weeks was brought in as purely a long-snapper, and it’s tough to find info on the guy. He has no NFL experience and played at Baylor. That’s the end of what I know of him… but if he couldn’t snap, he wouldn’t currently be on the roster. The question will become, is he a good enough snapper that he’s worth taking up a valuable roster spot? I tend to doubt it. Especially considering the team might keep Trindon Holliday as a return man exclusively.
Joel Dreessen – With Owen Daniels’ immediate future uncertain (seems to be coming along fine, but you never know) the Texans may not be too keen on having Dreessen do a lot of long-snapping. They’re going to want to max his time at the TE position, and shield him from any unnecessary injuries that could come from snapping. Although Dreessen had a good handle on long-snapping last year, I wouldn’t expect to see him in this role much in 2010, especially if they limit Daniels’ snaps, or if (crosses self) Daniels gets hurt again.
James Casey – I asked Casey in this interview if he was still working on the long-snapping skill and he confirmed that it’s still a big part of what he does. He might be a guy to watch for this position if they aren’t going to put too much on Dreessen, as I suspect.
What I expect
Ah yes, the yearly waste of a roster space known as the long snapper. For years, Bryan Pittman was a stalwart at this position, and when they’re as consistent and reliable as Pittman was, it’s definitely worth the roster spot. But, the Pittman era is really over this time… maybe. Last year Dreessen did well with the snapping, but the team had to bring Pittman back when Dreessen moved into Daniels’ starting TE spot. Uh, also – the team was hoping that Pittman would help get Kris Brown back to at LEAST average. Didn’t happen.
This position is kind of tough to predict. As I said above, I don’t know that the Texans will lean too heavily on Dreessen for this duty – so I’m going to go with the minor upset and say that James Casey locks up the long-snapper job and allows the Texans a little bit more roster flexibility. Jon Weeks will be brought back in if things don’t work out.
Jacoby Jones Clearly by now we know that Jacoby Jones seems to finally be on the cusp of being a dangerous receiver first, and a dangerous return man second. Still, even if the Texans think they have something special in Trindon Holliday – is there really a substitute for a proven top-notch NFL punt return man like Jacoby Jones? For every touchdown Jacoby has scored on a return in his career, he’s had two that he ALMOST broke for a TD… of course, we know the other side of that coin… he’s also had his fair share of drops and bad fair catch decisions.
Andre Davis Davis signed his big deal to stay with the Texans in large part because of his kickoff return abilities, which have all but disappeared. The team had Jones taking kickoff returns last year, and Davis was limited to coming off the bench to run the occasional deep route. This year, I think we will see Davis’ role shrink even more, as he’s taken off of kick returns completely in favor of either Holliday or Jones. Previously, I thought Davis had a good chance of being cut before the start of the season, but the more I think about it – he’s just too valuable and skilled if the unspeakable happened to Andre Johnson. Some might say Jacoby would be the guy to fill in for AJ if he went down, but I think their strengths are just too different. They’re not the same kind of receiver, whereas Johnson and Davis play similar games (with Davis obviously being FAR less effective).
Trindon Holliday Holliday is blazing fast, and if he can translate his ability to the NFL game, he might be a player to watch. Unfortunately, the guy has no chance of cracking the depth chart as a WR, especially in Houston where the position is strong. He’s going to have to be mega-impressive as a return man to make this team, unless the Texans are so high on his return potential, that they cut a final roster spot from another position group. Gary Kubiak has already called Holliday out during OTAs about as harshly as Kubiak has ever called anyone out publicly.
What I expect
This one’s pretty tough to call without seeing Holliday in preseason action. My gut tells me that Jacoby Jones retains his punt return duties, and the Texans hang on to Holliday to try him in the kickoff return game. I really think the addition of Holliday was as much about how the Texans have lost confidence in Davis’ kick return ability, as it was about how high they may have been on Holliday himself.