Hearing footsteps

As cliché as it may sound football is a business complete with tough decisions, shrewd economic moves and marketing.

Normally Texans players go through the day worrying little if any about the business moves swirling around the front office. But at certain times of the year they can't help but feel the heat of one of the toughest things any coach or executive has to go through.

The team has to trim its roster to 65 players by Aug. 31 – another sign that the regular season is closer than ever.

As of Aug. 29 the Texans had 90 players on their roster. Head coach Dom Capers will get 10 extra spots because of NFL Europe exemptions and won't have to worry about the three players on the physically unable to perform list.

But that still leaves 12 spots that need to be freed up.

"We'll meet tonight and go through some scenarios and then make the moves," Capers said Saturday evening. "We'll go through everything and take a look at the possibilities. We could do it anytime between now and Tuesday (Aug. 31)."

He added coaches will ultimately keep the players who give the team its best chance to win. Starters are set, so decisions will likely come down to backup spots and special teams.

There is still the shroud of mystery as to when the events will take place, but veterans and rookies alike know exactly what's coming.

"This is a very tough business," 10-year veteran Mark Bruener said. "It's a great game, but you know over the years I've really experienced and seen just how brutal this business can be. I've lost a lot of friends. But ultimately the coaches are trying to find the best 53 players to help us be as effective as we can once the season starts."

The team won't have to be down to its final 53-man roster until Sept. 5.

Bruener said younger players get a reality check when the first round of cuts come. But the veterans also have to be on their toes and prove their worth because "there's always a youth movement."

"You always have something to worry about. You never know," tight end Billy Miller said.

Miller is an unusual case because the Denver Broncos cut him early in his career. He was signed to the team's practice squad later in 1999 before being called up to the active roster. The Texans signed him prior to the 2002 season.

"This is the most unstable business you can be in," he added. "You always have to be on your toes. I've been trying to talk to a lot of younger guys and trying to explain to them what a precious opportunity they have. I've been one of those guys that have been cut before. I understand what it is to be cut, what it takes not to get cut. Some guys take it for granted. You just have to work hard and hopefully get a second opportunity and be blessed enough to get a second opportunity like I did."

Indeed some of the players who are cut by Tuesday have another chance, either with another team or on the Texans' practice squad – a group of eight players who are allowed to practice with the team but remain inactive on game day.

Several players have worked their way through practice squads to make a team, including Texans wide receiver Derick Armstrong, cornerback Demarcus Faggins and fullback Ed Stansbury.

Of course that still doesn't ease all the pain. It can be tough, but it's life in the football business. That's something even the most experienced veterans can understand, whether they've been cut or not.

"That's something I never have had to experience," Pro-Bowl defensive end Gary Walker said. "This is a tough time of the year. You've got all these guys in here working hard and busting their butts. Hopefully other teams will pick some of them up. It's a tough time of he year, you get through this part right here and everything else is pretty much down hill."

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