Caveat: Every NFL team has to release a depth chart before its first preseason game. I believe the depth chart is more fluid than it appears on paper. Also, the NFL hasn’t adjusted to the norms of a passing-based league. Slot WRs and slot CBs are on the field more than 50% of the time. That dynamic isn’t really reflected in a standard RB/2 WR/1 FB depth chart. For the Texans, Chris Clemons is nominally listed behind Kendrick Lewis at free safety, but the defense has practiced with 3 safeties (Lewis, Clemons, Swearinger) very frequently throughout training camp.

1. Jadeveon Clowney ahead of Whitney Mercilus at JACK linebacker – One thing to mention is that the Texans will have a rotation at outside LB. You will see a steady diet of Clowney, Mercilus, and Brooks Reed. Having said that, I do think it’s interesting that Reed is listed as the starter at SAM. Of the outside LBs, the Texans’ coaches likely trust him the most in terms of setting the edge. Mercilus hasn’t shown up in many positive camp reviews, and he’s behind a player (Clowney) who is a major talent, but has missed a few practices.

2. Mike Thomas ahead of Keshawn Martin at KR/PR – Thomas has been working with the 1s in the slot at training camp, but this surprised me a bit. If Martin isn’t carrying the load on special teams, you have to wonder about his roster spot on the team. I also believe Thomas is more quick than fast, so the kick return element is interesting as well.

3. DL – The starters are JJ Watt, Jerrell Powe, and Jared Crick. That is the default, but I think Tim Jamison and Ricardo Mathews will rotate in quite a bit. 6th rounder Jeoffrey Pagan is listed as 3rd string at LDE behind Keith Browner. If the Texans had a regular season game, I wonder if Pagan would be among the inactives.

4. Linebackers – Justin Tuggle and Jeff Tarpinian are listed as the starters inside, as the Texans await the return of Brian Cushing at MIKE. I’ve seen Mike Mohamed rotate in front of Tarpinian a few times in recent practices. Tuggle has been an impressive player so far; maybe he can be added to this list of players Rick Smith has found as a UDFA. It also doesn’t seem like recent signees Quentin Groves and Lawrence Sidbury have flashed much, as both are listed on the 3rd string.

5. Running backs – This may not be an accurate representation of what the coaches really think, but the chart has Dennis Johnson and Tim Cornett on the 3rd string, ahead of Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes. From what I’ve seen, Blue and Grimes are getting more of the workload in practice. Both also look pretty good, with Grimes looking pretty fluid running and receiving despite starting camp injured.


Mike Meltser can be heard on MaD Radio from 10am-2pm
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