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Fine tuning

The Texans pared their roster down to 52 players Sunday. But they're not done tweaking their roster.

In seven days, Houston will tee it up at Miami to open the regular season. The Texans will start preparations tomorrow by watching film and holding a two-hour practice. But first, the coaching and scouting staff will scour the waiver wire tonight.

By placing tight end Bennie Joppru on injured reserve, the Texans now have an extra roster spot to ponder in the next few days.

"There's not any one player we're looking to add," head coach Dom Capers said Sunday. "But I think again, when you're in the situation we're in, what you're always looking for is you're trying to see where you can upgrade and we'll continue to look for that. We were able to do that a year ago.

"We're third on the waiver claim, so obviously when all the waivers come out this evening, we'll be taking a good look to see if there's any place that we feel that we can upgrade our roster. It's not any one specific place, just taking a good look to see if we feel there's a good football player."

The Texans said good-bye Sunday to six players -- wide receiver JaJuan Dawson, cornerback Demarcus Faggins, wide receiver Atnaf Harris, linebacker Jason Lamar, guard Ryan Schau and defensive tackle Shawn Worthen -- that were on Houston's active roster last season. That's not surprising given the constant roster turnover of expansion clubs, but that doesn't make it any easier for the coaching staff.

"There's always a number of areas that are tough if you have to release a guy that's been with you the first year," Capers said. "Guys that have done everything you asked them to do, guys that have been true pros in their preparation and their work ethic, and all those things that we place a high value on. Those cuts are always a bit tougher."

None of the roster moves today would be considered shocking, but some were intriguing.

Erik Flowers came on strong at the end of the preseason to edge Patrick Chukwurah for the final outside linebacker spot. At inside linebacker, the Texans decided to keep both Troy Evans and Jimmy McClain. Both players excel on special teams and McClain helped his cause with a solid performance at Tampa Bay three days ago.

Defensive end Terrance Martin, an undrafted free agent out of N.C. State, beat out Shawn Worthen and Keith Wright for a spot on the defensive line. Martin led the defensive line with 14 tackles during the preseason. He joins McClain, who made the cut in 2002, as the only undrafted free agents to make Houston's regular season roster.

Cornerback Darrick Vaughn missed some time with a shoulder injury but still managed to tie safety Ramon Walker for the team lead with four special teams stops. Free safety Travares Tillman missed all of the preseason with a forearm injury but the Texans still felt it necessary to keep him.

On offense, wide receiver Derick Armstrong snagged the last wide receiver slot (beating out Dawson and Harris) and tight end Rashod Kent made the roster after a strong preseason. On the surface, it would appear that Kent benefited from Joppru's groin injury but his preseason effort still might have merited a roster spot.

"If Bennie had been healthy, than we probably would have gone with four tight ends, or certainly taken a good look at that possibility," Capers said.

The Texans have two young return threats on their roster in wide receiver J.J. Moses and running back Domanick Davis. Moses quickly became a fan favorite at Reliant Stadium, averaging nearly 12 yards on punt returns in the preseason.

As far as waiver claims go, the Texans have just one fullback and could use some depth at defensive line, where they have just five players. That includes defensive end Gary Walker, who is still nursing a sprained shoulder. Houston has its share of bumps and bruises but looks to be nearly at full strength for the first week of the season.

"I think we're on schedule with most of the guys," Capers said. "There's a couple guys that will be day-to-day and we'll have to wait and see and probably make a decision at the end of the week whether they're ready to go or not. But I think Steve McKinney, we've had him on course to get back and play, and Jay Foreman, same type of thing.

         Gary Walker, it will be a day-to-day thing. We'll have to see how
         he does on the practice field on a limited basis."
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