Houston will take on New Orleans on Saturday in the team’s third preseason game. The starters will get a lot of work, but there are a few key position battles that still haven’t sorted themselves out yet, notably at No. 3 wide receiver and kicker.
Each week during preseason, RapidReports will take a position-by-position look at the players we think are likely to make the final cut to 53 on Sept. 2 and those who we think may soon be seeking alternative employment.
Stock rising: Wide receiver Trindon Holliday looks to be on his way to making the team as a return specialist. Holliday returned a punt 87 yards for a touchdown against San Francisco, his second special teams touchdown of the preseason. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Carolina.
Stock falling: Wide receiver Bryant Johnson was signed right before training camp to bring a veteran presence to an inexperienced unit in Houston. So far, Johnson has not caught a pass through two preseason games.
Analysis: The real battle here is between the veteran Beck and rookie Case Keenum. Keenum was the third quarterback to enter the game against San Francisco on Saturday. He completed just 1 of 3 passes for 20 yards in limited work. Right now, Beck gets the nod based on his experience.
Analysis: Obviously, Foster and Tate are locks. Forsett is a free agent signing that has worked out well. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has praised Forsett’s approach and professionalism, and he can return kicks. Grimes has also looked good. He has 11 carries for 48 yards in the preseason, but it doesn’t look like there will be enough room on the roster for him.
FB -- In: (2) James Casey, Moran Norris. Out: Derrell Smith.
Analysis: Casey is listed as a fullback, but he is not a typical fullback. Casey is much more versatile. That is why the Texans will keep Norris, who is a traditional fullback.
Analysis: Lestar Jean and rookie Keshawn Martin have seemingly separated themselves in the battle for the No. 3 wide receiver spot behind Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. Rookie DeVier Posey is also in the mix, but he has not caught a pass in the team’s two preseason games. Holliday is on the team simply based on his return abilities.
Analysis: This position is pretty set with Daniels and Graham, who Kubiak has praised for his improvement throughout camp.
OL -- In: (9) Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Antoine Caldwell, Rashad Butler, Brandon Brooks, Derek Newton, Ben Jones, Thomas Austin. Out: Nick Mondek, Nate Menkin, Andrew Gardner, Shelley Smith, Kasey Studdard, Cody White, Cody Wallace.
Analysis: Jones is a rookie center out of Georgia who Kubiak again praised for his play after the game against San Francisco. Butler and Caldwell seem to have the edge on the right side of the line. Brooks is a rookie offensive guard who has shown flashes this preseason. Austin is a question considering he was declared active/non-football injury. He has not played so far this preseason. Kasey Studdard could make the team in Austin’s place.
Analysis: This unit has been a little banged up with Watt, Cody, and Crick suffering minor injuries during training camp, but these six seem pretty set.
LB -- In: (8) Brooks Reed, Brian Cushing, Bradie James, Connor Barwin, Whitney Mercilus, Tim Dobbins, Bryan Braman, Mister Alexander. Out: Omar Gaither, Shawn Loiseau, Greg Williams, D.J. Bryant, Delano Johnson, Rennie Moore, Jesse Nading. PUP: Darryl Sharpton
Analysis: Nading could end up making the team based on his special teams abilities. Inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton is still on the PUP list as he is still recovering from quadriceps and hip injuries. If Sharpton makes his way back, he would probably take a roster spot.
DB -- In: (11) Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Brice McCain, Sherrick McManis, Alan Ball, Brandon Harris, Danieal Manning, Glover Quin, Quintin Demps, Troy Nolan, Shiloh Keo. Out: Eddie Pleasant, Roc Carmichael, Torri Williams.
Analysis: Keo would be one of the final players to make the roster, but he gets the nod simply because he is versatile and can return kicks. Brandon Harris has impressed Kubiak. “From the last four, five days of OTAs throughout this training camp, he’s become a better player every time he steps on the field,” Kubiak said.
Analysis: Bullock is still getting the nod here, but it is close. Graham made field goals from 48 and 49 yards against San Francisco while Bullock missed his only attempt from 51 yards. Kubiak said the kicking battle goes back and forth on a daily basis. The Texans have two viable options at kicker, which is a nice problem to have.
Follow Texans blogger Sean Bielawski on Twitter, @CBSSportsNFLHOU.