Finalizing the roster

The Texans open the season in a week.

But no amount of excitement and anticipation for the opening kickoff can make cutting a player easy.

Texans head coach Dom Capers announced 16 cuts to the media Sunday afternoon. The team is now down to the league-mandated 53-player roster.

Linebacker D.D. Acholonu, center Luke Butkus, defensive end Jason Davis, tight end Jabari Holloway, safety Jammal Lord, defensive tackle Terrance Martin, running back Adam Matthews, tight end Matt Murphy, linebacker Shantee Orr, linebacker Antonio Rodriguez, defensive tackle Jeremy Slechta, fullback Ed Stansbury, wide receiver Chris Taylor, wide receiver Sloan Thomas, linebacker Anthony Dunn and cornerback Darrick Vaughn have been released.

Capers said a number of the players released would have made the team in its inaugural season, but the Texans are growing more talented as the years pass.

"When cuts get a little bit tougher, hopefully your team is getting better," he said. "A number of people we released today I have a good feel for in terms of what they've done and what they've contributed. As always with some of these young men you hope they clear waivers so you have an opportunity to bring them back on the practice squad."

Players available after 11 a.m. Sept. 6 can be signed to an eight-man practice squad. Capers said the team will move quickly, likely bringing back some players or others released by other teams across the league.

A spot on the practice squad does signify the decline of a player's career. On the contrary, practice squad players are often asked to step onto the active roster.

Texans' cornerback Demarcus Faggins spent the first half of 2003 on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster. He played the rest of the season and started in the team's final game against Indianapolis.

He's now on the field whenever the team uses its five defensive back of "nickel" package.

The Texans are left with two active tight ends after the roster moves – Billy Miller and Mark Bruener. A third tight end, Bennie Joppru, is on the physically unable to perform list.

Capers said the team will use an offensive lineman in situations requiring a third tight end. Tackle Seth Wand served in that capacity in 2003. Marcus Spears will now see time at the position.

Capers said wide receiver Sloan Thomas was fighting for a spot at one of the team's deepest positions. Rookie free agent Kendrick Starling made the 53-man roster as a receiver. So did return man J.J. Moses.

Starling and Moses are expected to contribute on special teams.

"You have to try to put together what you think is the best 53-man roster that gives you an opportunity to go out and be a winning football team," Capers said.

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