The Texans have released their first unofficial depth chart of 2012.
Rookie fourth-round draft pick Keshawn Martin, who seems to be emerging more each day as the Texans' third wide receiver, is listed as the backup to Andre Johnson. Martin practiced as a starter last week with Johnson sidelined by a groin injury and will play “a great deal” against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday.
Lestar Jean, who practiced as a starter when Johnson sat out of organized team activities (OTAs) in the spring, is listed behind Martin, followed by Juaquin Iglesias and Jerrell Jackson.
At the other receiver spot, starter Kevin Walter is followed by veteran Bryant Johnson, rookie third-round draft pick DeVier Posey, Jeff Maehl, Trindon Holliday and Mario Louis. Johnson flies under the radar but is clearly in the mix to make the team, as he's listed ahead of a player in Posey who is a certainty to be on the 53-man roster. Johnson is the only Texans receiver besides Andre Johnson and Walter who has caught an NFL pass.
Antoine Caldwell is listed as the Texans’ starting right guard, ahead of rookie third-round pick Brandon Brooks and third-year pro Shelley Smith. Rashad Butler is listed as the starting right tackle, ahead of second-year pro Derek Newton. Both starting jobs will be hotly contested throughout the preseason.
John Beck is listed ahead of Case Keenum as the Texans’ third quarterback. Justin Forsett is listed as the third running back, ahead of undrafted rookies Jonathan Grimes and Davin Meggett. Derrell Smith is ahead of Moran Norris as the team’s second fullback.
The defensive depth chart features few surprises. First-round draft pick Whitney Mercilus is listed at second-team Will linebacker behind Connor Barwin. Second-year outside linebacker Bryan Braman is the backup at Sam behind Brooks Reed, with veteran Jesse Nading listed on the third team.
Second-year inside linebacker Mister Alexander is the backup to Brian Cushing. Veteran Tim Dobbins and rookie Shawn Loiseau back up Bradie James at the other inside spot. Darryl Sharpton, who was expected to compete with James for a starting job, is on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.
At cornerback, Alan Ball is listed as the backup to Kareem Jackson. The former Dallas Cowboys starter is currently ahead of Sherrick McManis, whom Kubiak praised after practice on Wednesday morning, and Brandon Harris, a 2011 second-round pick who has had an impressive camp.
Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph is backed up by standout nickel corner Brice McCain, 2011 fourth-round pick Roc Carmichael and converted safety Torri Williams.
Danieal Manning is listed at strong safety and Glover Quin at free safety, a reversal of their positions from last season.
At kicker, veteran Shayne Graham is listed ahead of rookie Randy Bullock. Bullock would seem to be favored to win the job by virtue of the Texans drafting him in the fifth round, but the competition has been neck-and-neck so far in camp.
Holliday is listed as the Texans’ top kickoff and punt returner, ahead of Martin, Forsett and Shiloh Keo. Martin is a lock to make the team, while Forsett is a strong bet to make it as the Texans’ third running back. Holliday’s listing is an indication that the Texans plan to give him plenty of opportunities in the preseason.