Roster Preview | HoustonTexans.com
90-Man Roster Preview
2 - RB Marlon Mack
2021 stats (IND) - six games, 101 rushing yards, eight yards receiving
Signed with the Texans in 2022.
During the offseason practices, it was fairly clear that Mack's still got juice with the ball in his hands. Now, when the pads go on, he must show he's still got the vision, the strength AND juice to bolster the Texans backfield. If he channels his Wild Card 2018 form, the Texans run game will go to a different stratosphere. Furthermore, there's enough tread remaining on the proverbial tires to get to that point again.
3 - QB Kyle Allen
2021 stats (WAS) - two games, no starts, 120 passing yards, one TD
Signed with the Texans in 2022
Throughout OTAs and minicamp practice, Allen impressed me with the zip he had on his fastball, making some beautiful tosses throughout the offseason. I entered the offseason not totally convinced that Allen was THE guy to back up Davis Mills, but felt much better about that decision after seeing him up close during the offseason practices.
4 - WR Phillip Dorsett
2021 stats - three games in Houston, six receptions, 107 yards
Signed by the Texans during 2021 season, re-signed in 2022
The former Hurricane game breaker was so incredibly hard to miss during OTAs/minicamp, making a ton of big catches all over the field. His blazing speed has always been his best asset as he showed last year in the few games that he played with the Texans before his injury. He can fly and is healthy - two excellent pieces of news heading into his eighth training camp
6 - QB Jeff Driskel
2021 stats - one game
Signed by the Texans in 2021, re-signed in 2022
As the number three QB heading into camp, Driskel will get a ton of reps in the second halves of preseason games. There's never been any question about Driskel's athletic ability and he's one of the best pound for pound athletes on this squad.
9 - TE Brevin Jordan
2021 stats - nine games, 28 targets, 20 receptions for 178 yards and three touchdowns
Drafted #147 overall, 5th round in 2021 draft
The 2021 5th rounder made his presence known over the last half of the 2021 season. He was active in a game for the first time against the Rams in week eight and caught his first NFL TD late in that same game. He continued to improve with more snaps on the field as he hauled in 20 receptions on just 28 targets for 178 yards and three touchdowns. That's the second highest returning mark behind last year's leader Brandin Cooks. His presence gives many fans and followers hope that the athletically gifted youngster from Las Vegas has much more to show in the 2022 and beyond.
10 - QB Davis Mills
2021 stats - 13 games, 11 starts, 2,664 passing yards, 16 TD, ten INT, 88.8 season rating
Drafted #67 overall, 3rd round in 2021 draft.
He carries a ton of pressure as the unquestioned starter for this team heading into 2022, but if anyone has the right mindset/demeanor to step up to the plate, it's the second year QB from Stanford. Mills led the league in red zone QB rating (116.8) in 2021 as a rookie and has taken the lead for this offensive group. Furthermore, he produced three games with a QB Rating over 128. In those three games, Mills threw eight TD and no interceptions against two playoff teams (Patriots and Titans) and one that barely missed out (Chargers).
12 - WR Nico Collins
2021 stats - 14 games, eight starts, 60 targets, 33 receptions for 446 yards and one TD
Drafted #89 overall, 3rd round in 2021
I can't help but think about former Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins when ruminating about Collins. They're completely different in nearly every way, but what I'm hoping is that Nico has a similar year one to year two jump that Hopkins made in 2014. Hop took over as WR1 that season from the GOAT Andre Johnson. Although I don't see Collins making quite that leap to overtake WR1 Brandin Cooks, the progress in Collins' game was quite evident in OTAs/minicamp. He can be an absolute DUDE on the perimeter with his size, speed and demeanor. Can't wait to see him in full game action.
13 - WR Brandin Cooks
2021 stats - 16 games, 16 starts, 134 targets, 90 receptions for 1.037 yards, six TD
Traded to Houston in 2020, signed contract extension with Texans in 2022
The Truth. Led the Texans in every single receiving category last year and looked even sharper during the offseason. He was targeted 134 times in 16 games, registering a career high 90 receptions for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns. His leadership, attitude and leadership are as valuable as his outstanding play on the field for this offense.
15 - WR Chris Moore
2021 stats - 12 games, one start, 22 targets, 21 rec. for 227 yards, two TD, five ST tackles
Signed with Texans in 2021, re-signed in 2022
He may have been a bit of an unknown heading into the 2021 season, but he's always been one of my favorites in the league. He's the consummate professional and a wonderful teammate, but against New England, he showed how much impact he could have at the receiver position, scoring on a long catch-and-run touchdown and piling up 109 yards receiving.
17 - WR Jalen Camp
2021 stats - three games, no targets
Signed with the Texans during the 2021 season
The former Georgia Tech star receiver saw some playing time in 2021 but he didn't see a ton of passing targets. And, by passing targets, I mean, he , unfortunately, didn't see any. But, he had a full offseason with the staff and coaches, which should help. Also, he will have a full training camp and three preseason games to prove that he can be that complete, physical threat at receiver that he showed in college. He's never missed a workout, that's for sure, but he has to find how to channel his height, weight and speed into consistent production on the field at this level.
18 - WR Chris Conley
2021 stats - 16 games, ten starts, 37 targets, 22 receptions for 323 yards and two TD
Signed with the Texans in 2021, re-signed in 2022
After signing a one year contract in 2021, Conley returned to Houston in 2022 after a 22 reception season. He finished third on the team with 323 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including a flea flicker TD catch against New England and a bomb TD before halftime in the win against the the Chargers.
26 - RB Royce Freeman
2021 stats - seven games w/HOU, 35 carries for 92 yards, seven rec for 62 yards Signed with the Texans during the 2021 season, re-signed for 2022.
Freeman returned to the Texans after he finished the last half of the 2021 season with the Texans. He was active in seven games, piling up 35 carries and 92 yards in those games down the stretch. He just turned 26 so he should have plenty of tread left on the tires as he heads into his fifth year in the league.
28 - RB Rex Burkhead
2021 stats - 16 games, five starts, 122 carries for 427 yards, three TD, 25 rec. for 186 yards Signed with the Texans in 2021, extension signed late in 2021 season
When the 2021 season started, Burkhead was not the main ball carrier for the team. He bided his time and got an opportunity after the bye week to truly become RB1. The highwater mark was the 149 yards he ran for in a win over the Chargers at home in which he dominated the game from jump. He started five times last year and set a career high mark in rushing yards with 427. Late in the 2021 season, he re-upped with the Texans and he seems to have juice left on into his 30s. He'll have different company in the running back room in 2022, but that should make the entire group better, led by Burkhead.
31 - RB Dameon Pierce
2021 stats (at Florida) - 13 games, 100 attempts for 574 yards, 13 TD, 19 rec for 216 yards, three TD Drafted #107 overall, 4th round in 2022.
Each and every week in the 2021 season, I'd wake up on a Sunday and see my friends from Florida on Twitter complaining about Pierce's workload, or lack thereof, for the Gators. I never understood why the Gators didn't pound Pierce 18-20 times a game, but now that he's a rookie RB with the Texans, I'm thankful they didn't. He had just 100 rushing attempts in his senior season, but scored 13 (!!) touchdowns - one touchdown every eight attempts is a darn efficient average to say the least. Either way, this is one crowded backfield and there'll be plenty of competition for playing time and touches. That said, Pierce is the first running back the Texans drafted in five years so EVERYONE is excited about D.P. heading into his rookie campaign…and for good reason.
33 - RB Dare Ogunbowale
2021 stats (JAX) - 17 games, two starts, 43 attempts for 137 yards, one TD, 13 rec for 114 yards, one TD Signed originally as a rookie UDFA in Houston in 2017, returned as a free agent signee in 2022
The former Wisconsin star was an undrafted free agent rookie for the Texans in 2017 and has stayed in the league going on six seasons in 2022. Over the past two seasons in Jacksonville, he started four games and ran for 272 yards and a touchdown in those seasons. His Football Life has come full circle as he signed a free agent deal with the Texans in 2022 this offseason. During OTA/minicamp, he showed that he has some run/pass versatility and could make some noise during the preseason for certain.
40 - FB Paul Quessenberry
2021 stats - one game Signed with the Texans in 2021, re-signed on a futures contract in 2022
Quessenberry was on the Texans practice squad for much of the 2021 season and he signed a future/reserve contract this offseason to stay with the Texans in 2022. Then, his brother OL Scott signed with the Texans to make it TWO Quessenberrys in Houston for 2022 as well. Paul is the quintessential fullback, in that, he doesn't need a carry or a touch; all he needs is a body in a different colored jersey to strike.
41 - FB Andy Janovich
2021 stats (CLE) - 13 games, three starts, four targets, three rec for nine yards Signed with the Texans in 2022
The Texans didn't use a traditional fullback most of the 2021 season, making Paul Quessenberry active for just one game, which resulted in just one offensive snap. Things could change in 2022, though. Janovich signed in Houston after starting 25 games in his six year career in Denver and Cleveland. It could be deduced, given the Janovich signing and Quessenberry remaining a Texan, that the Texans plan on using a fullback more in the 2022 season. That said, we'll see how that transpires through training camp and preseason games.
47 - TE Mason Schreck
2021 stats (CIN) - one game Signed with the Texans late in the 2022 offseason
I finished my TE position breakdown back in the spring not 24 hours before Schreck was signed to the Texans roster. The next day I got to see Schreck on the field and I certainly saw the attraction of the former Bengal tight end. He was once a pass catching prospect out of Buffalo but his blocking has improved to a point that he was used as more of an in-line Y-TE at Cincinnati. In OTA/minicamp, he showed off his soft hands and ability to make plays in this passing game. He's an intriguing player as we head into training camp.
54 - OL Scott Quessenberry
2021 stats (LAC) - 16 games, one start Signed with the Texans in 2022
First, there was David. Then, there was Paul. Now, along with Paul, there's Scott. The triumvirate of Quessenberrys is now complete as the Texans signed the youngest of the bunch, Scott, to a deal this offseason. After a successful career at UCLA, Scott appeared in 63 games for the Chargers, starting ten games at center over four seasons. He can play either interior position, but the fact that he has experience at center is key to his versatility for this OL.
59 - OL Kenyon Green
2021 stats (at Texas A&M) - 12 games at four different positions on the OL (LG, RG, RT, LT) Drafted #15 overall, 1st round in 2022
Just after the players left for the summer, Green was given his own day in Humble, TX - Kenyon Green Day! Here's hoping there are 17 Kenyon Green Days during the 2022 season for the Texans. There was a clear need on the interior for the Texans, hence the signing of A.J. Cann and the drafting of Green. To understand Green's impact on the organization just know that he's the highest drafted offensive lineman in Texans history so the expectations are enormous. That said, Green dealt with massively high expectations heading to Texas A&M as a true freshman and became an All-American in three years.
60 - OL A.J. Cann
2021 stats (JAX) - four games, four starts - RG Signed with the Texans in 2022
While in Jacksonville, Cann started 13+ games for six seasons after being drafted in 2015. In 2021, though, he suffered a season ending injury early in the campaign and missed the last 13 games of the year. The Texans jumped at the opportunity early in free agency to sign Cann to help bolster the interior of this offensive line. He played for Texans OL coach George Warhop in Jacksonville from 2019 through 2021…and will do so in 2022 in Houston.
64 - OL Justin McCray
2021 stats - 14 games, eight starts - left guard Signed with the Texans in 2021
The Texans signed McCray to a two year deal in 2021 so he returns to the Texans in 2022 as a key piece for the interior OL puzzle. McCray wasn't expected to start in 2021, but with injuries, changes and movements on the OL, he ended up playing over half of the offensive snaps in the 2021 season. During the Texans' 2022 offseason, it was much the same. He spent a significant amount of time at center with Justin Britt banged up in June. As such, McCray adds a ton of value to this OL in 2022.
67 - OL Charlie Heck
2021 stats - 15 games, 13 starts - right tackle Drafted #126 overall, 4th round in 2020
Heck enters the third year of his career, having started one game as a rookie in 2020 and 14 games at RT last season after Marcus Cannon went down with an injury. Heck has improved throughout his two year stint in Houston and another significant jump in play as he enters year three will do nothing but benefit this 2022 Texans offense.
68 - OL Justin Britt
2021 stats - 11 games, 11 starts - center Signed with the Texans in 2021, re-signed in 2022
The Texans signed Britt to a one year deal last offseason after he suffered through nearly two seasons with an injury in Seattle. He was an upgrade over previous middle men in the Texans offensive line and he made an impact on and off the field for this organization in 2021. The Texans wanted to see that, and more, from Britt so they re-signed the former Missouri star to, again, man the middle of the Texans OL in 2022.
70 - OL Jordan Steckler
2021 stats - two games Signed with the Texans in 2021, re-signed to come back in 2022
I'm really glad that the Texans brought back Steckler for 2022. I thought there were moments in 2021 training camp that Steckler showed some real promise as a pass protector. His eventual future might be on the inside, in particular, at center, and he'll have the entire training camp to get accustomed to playing at that spot. As such, training camp and the team's three preseason games will give Steckler plenty of opportunity to get comfortable if he does indeed make a transition to the inside full-time.
71 - OL Tytus Howard
2021 stats - 15 games, 15 starts - left guard, left tackle Drafted #23 overall, 1st round in 2019
Entering the offseason, Howard's all encompassing Texans situation was, let's call it, thought-provoking, for lack of a better word. Then, specific things happened that provided some clarity for the former Alabama State star. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil locked in to stay in Houston. Then, the Texans passed on drafting a tackle at number three overall in the 2022 NFL Draft and drafted a player more suited to play guard at pick #15 overall - Kenyon Green. Then, the Texans exercised the fifth year option on Howard's contract. Each singular event seemed to make Tytus' situation that much clearer heading into 2022. And, that's a good thing for Howard and the Texans as each entity heads into a massively important season.
72 - OL Myron Cunningham
2021 stats (at Arkansas) - 13 starts at left tackle Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2022
Cunningham started his career at Western Illinois, originally, but never made an appearance as a Leatherneck. Before he took a snap, he transferred to Iowa Central CC where he became a coveted OL prospect at the FBS level. When he arrived at Arkansas, he stepped into the left tackle position and started ever since. He started every game but one since 2019, earning team captain status and anchoring an offensive line that was one of the best in the SEC.
73 - OL Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms
2021 stats - one game Signed with the Texans late in the 2022 offseason
Wallace-Simms played five games in his first two seasons in the league with the Jacksonville Jaguars. As such, he has plenty of experience playing for Texans OL coach George Warhop. The former Mizzou product arrived late in the offseason, but was thrown right into the fray in the final couple of weeks of practice in the offseason.
74 - OL Max Scharping
2021 stats - 17 games, 11 starts - right guard Drafted #55 overall, 2nd round in 2019
Scharping, a second round selection in 2019, enters the final year of his four year rookie contract in 2022. As a rookie, Scharping was a full-time starter, not missing a snap from game three of the season through the loss at Kansas City in the playoffs in January 2020. Unfortunately, the 2020 season was not as successful as his rookie campaign. As a third year veteran in 2021, though, he rebounded with a much better season, finding his confidence again at the guard position.
76 - OL Austin Deculus
2021 stats (at LSU) - 12 starts at RT, 61 game appearances in his career (LSU record) Drafted #205 overall, 6th round in 2022.
No player at famed LSU played in more games as a Tiger than Deculus. The Houston homeboy started every game at RT for the 2019 national champions and the next two years as well. He has tremendous size and athleticism for an offensive lineman at any level of football. I saw him play a couple of times in person and he had some moments that made me think he could stick around in the NFL for a while. His experience in the SEC will serve him VERY well as he competes for a roster spot/playing time and more back home for the Texans.
77 - OL Cedric Ogbuehi
2021 stats (BAL/SEA) - three games, one start
Signed with the Texans in 2022
Ogbuehi was a first round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2015 and spent four years with the Bengals. Since then, though, he's been looking for a more permanent home, and an opportunity. He played in Jacksonville for a year in 2019 while Texans OL coach George Warhop was the Jaguars OL coach. Those two were reunited in Houston in 2022 after Ogbuehi signed a free agent deal to come back to his home state.
78 - OL Laremy Tunsil
2021 stats - five games, five starts - left tackle Traded to the Texans in 2019, contract extension in 2020
In 2019, Tunsil was a Pro Bowler for the first time in his career after being traded to Houston and he followed that up with another Pro Bowl campaign in 2020. As such, when he suffered an injury early in week five of 2021, the impact on the Texans OL and the offense, as a whole, was significant. As such, there was some noise in league circles and local/national media about Tunsil's future in Houston but he squelched all that when he announced he was back in 2022. That was great news to have the star LT back at LT for this key season.
79 - OL Jimmy Morrissey
2021 stats - five games, four starts - center Signed with the Texans in 2021
Morrissey was drafted by Las Vegas in the seventh round of the 2021 Draft and was eventually claimed by the Texans when he was waived later in the 2021 season. Morrissey had been in Houston for just a couple of weeks before he started at center against Miami in week nine. Overall, he started four games as a rookie, including the win over the Chargers the day after Christmas. He's not going to ever be a height, weight, speed athletic specimen, but this dude is as tough as the day is long, especially in the run game.
81 - WR Drew Estrada
2021 stats (at Baylor) - 12 games, 30 rec for 367 yards and one TD Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2022
Estrada returned home (originally from Argyle, TX) to Texas for his final year of college football after starring in the Ivy League at Dartmouth for four years. He was a top 15 WR all-time at Dartmouth before deciding on Baylor for his final season in 2021. When he got to Baylor, he fit right in, starting five games for the 2021 Big 12 champions. He was third on the team with 367 receiving yards and fourth in receptions (30). He has jack-of-all-trades ability and some serious juice down the field. Dartmouth and Baylor both found a way to use him in different ways in the running game as well, given his slipperiness and open field running ability.
82 - WR Connor Wedington
2021 stats (SF) - Practice squad in 2021 Signed with the Texans late in the 2022 offseason
Wedington was claimed off waivers in May after spending the first few weeks of the offseason in San Francisco. Unfortunately, he was banged up during OTA/minicamp so I didn't get to see too much of him as a professional player, but I saw him plenty during his college career. He played alongside some dude named Davis Mills at Stanford. Not sure if y'all have heard of him. Either way, Wedington was a multi-use weapon while at Stanford but has decent size at 6-0, 197 lb. and can play either inside or outside.
83 - TE Antony Auclair
2021 stats - 16 games, 13 starts, five targets, five receptions for 47 yards, one TD Signed with the Texans in 2021, signed an extension in 2022
Auclair was brought into the fold for the Texans last year after playing for the 2020 Super Bowl Champions in Tampa. He was utilized mostly as a rough and rugged blocking tight end, but he did have an outstanding TD catch against the Patriots in week five. I wouldn't expect much to change for Auclair in 2022 as he fills a valuable need in this tight end group. If the Texans indeed plan on improving the run game, it could mean a bit more 12 personnel, which could mean more snaps for Auclair to aid in that run game improvement.
85 - TE Pharaoh Brown
2021 stats - 15 games, 12 starts, 34 targets, 23 receptions for 171 yards Signed with the Texans during the 2020 season, signed extension in 2022
When dialed in, when COMPLETELY dialed in, Brown can be as disruptive to opposing defenses as any offensive threat on the roster. He loves the physical part of the game, possesses a soft pair of hands and can turn a catch-and-run situation into a highlight reel. He can also lose focus at times and his concentration can wane. If he's more the former than the latter, Brown could thrive in this Pep Hamilton offensive scheme. That's my hope for 2022.
87 - TE Seth Green
2021 stats (at U of Houston) - 13 games, 13 receptions for 157 yards, three TD Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2022
It's hard to miss big number 87 in the passing game. He was recruited as a QB out of high school and had moments early in his career at Minnesota as a wildcat/goal line QB. But, he transferred to the University of Houston to become a tight end and he turned that opportunity into a spot on the Texans 90-man roster heading into camp. He was one of the best overall athletes in the tight end draft class so there's a ton of potential, to say the least.
89 - WR Johnny Johnson III
2021 stats (at Oregon) - ten games, 25 rec for 311 yards and one TD Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2022
Three seasons ago, I watched Johnson III against Arizona State in 2019 (10 receptions, 207 yards and two touchdowns) and was thoroughly convinced at that point that Johnson III was destined to be a player in this league. Even though he wasn't drafted, I still believe that he can find his way in this league. He's built like a Greek god and is tough after the catch. The preseason games will be a great stage for the former Duck receiver.
1 - DB Tremon Smith
2021 stats - 25.6 yards/kick return on 21 returns, one KO TD, 21 tackles, one fumble recovery
Originally signed with the Texans in 2021, signed extension in December 2021
Smith will always be one of my favorites as I called a couple of his college games many eons ago. He became a Texans' fan favorite in 2021 after his 98-yard kickoff return TD against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Teams chose to not kick him the ball after that TD return, which forced the Texans offensive staff to get creative and find ways to get him the ball. The cornerback log jam/competition will be a tough nut to crack, but Smith will always be a threat when he gets the ball in his hands as a return star.
5 - DB Jalen Pitre
2021 stats (at Baylor) - 75 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, seven PBU, three FF, two interceptions
Drafted #37 overall, 2nd round in 2022.In 2021.
Pitre was arguably the most valuable defensive player to his team in the country. Baylor head coach Dave Aranda unlocked the Pitre box once he arrived in 2020 and it resulted in an outstanding finish to Pitre's career as a Bear. Now, that importance is needed back in Pitre's home city and for his hometown team. In OTA/minicamp, he was the one player seemingly I couldn't take my eyes off of during practices. If he makes that type of impact in the regular season, the Texans will have the secondary playmaker that they've coveted for years.
8 - DB Terrence Brooks
2021 stats - 11 games, 21 tackles, one pass breakup
Signed with the Texans in 2021, re-signed in 2022
He started three games for the Texans in 2021, the first of which was at Indianapolis. But, early in that game, Brooks was injured, missed the remainder of that game and was absent for the next three contests with that injury. He started two other games during the 2021 season, including the final game against the Titans in which he had eight tackles and a pass breakup. Heading into his ninth year in the NFL, Brooks has truly seen it all and will certainly be in the mix at the safety position.
19 - LB Tae Davis
2021 stats - spent the year on IR
Signed with the Texans in 2021.
2021 won't be a year that Davis wants to remember anytime soon. He was hurt late in training camp and spent the year on injured reserve. At linebacker, Davis is tailor-made for this defensive scheme and will have a shot to prove what he can do on the field when fully healthy in 2022.
20 - DB Isaac Yiadom
2021 stats (GB) - 16 games, one start, ten tackles
Signed with the Texans in 2022.
Yiadom was a third round pick in 2018 with the Denver Broncos where he started nine games in his first two seasons. Then, he moved across the country to start ten games in 2020 for the New York Giants before he signed in Green Bay for 2021. He certainly fits the body type and profile for a defensive back in this Texans secondary - 6-1, 190 lb, long arms and speed.
21 - DB Steven Nelson
2021 stats (PHI) -16 games, 16 starts, one INT, seven PD, 50 tackles Signed with the Texans in 2022.
Nelson was the team's most significant signing in the secondary this offseason as he signed a two year contract to join the Texans in 2022 and beyond. He spent the 2021 season in Philadelphia where he started 16 games and finished with one interception and seven passes defensed. Nelson has started 15 games or more for the past four seasons and that experience is incredibly valuable to this still emerging secondary.
22 - DB Fabian Moreau
2021 stats (ATL) - 16 games, 16 starts, 11 PD, 61 tackles, three TFL Signed with the Texans late in the 2022 offseason
Height, weight and speed are in abundance for the former UCLA star, who joined the Texans late in the 2022 offseason. That said, Moreau was here for a couple of weeks in June so he did get a chance to dive into the playbook and meet the rest of the defense. He spent the 2021 season in Atlanta where he started 16 games and racked up 61 tackles and 11 passes defensed.
23 - DB Eric Murray
2021 stats - 16 games, 11 starts, one INT, four PD, 76 tackles Signed with the Texans in 2020, signed an extension in 2022
Murray, unfortunately, missed most of OTAs/minicamps but should be ready to go for training camp. He signed a contract extension to stay in Houston this offseason. Last year, staying strictly at safety in this defense, Murray made impactful plays in key games and finished the season with 76 tackles, one interception in 11 starts in 2021. There's little question that his experience is a vital asset on this 2022 Texans roster.
24 - DB Derek Stingley Jr.
2021 stats (at LSU) - three games, eight tackles, 3.5 TFL, one FF Drafted #3 overall, 1st round in 2022
The Future. As the first first round pick the Texans had in three years, there's a significant amount of excitement for the former Freshman All-American from LSU. Stingley Jr. didn't get a ton of on-field reps during OTAs/minicamp, but he should be fully ready to roll on the first day of training camp. Stingley Jr. is as talented as any cornerback that's come through this building, but that ability must come through each and every Sunday for this 2022 defense.
25 - DB Desmond King II
2021 stats - 16 games, 12 starts, three INT, six PD, one FF, 93 tackles, one TFL Signed with the Texans in 2021, re-signed in 2022.
At the outset of the 2021 season, King was the team's inside slot corner but as the season wore on, King moved outside and played the second half of the season as one of the team's starters at perimeter corner (not to mention his punt return responsibilities). Once he was inserted at that spot, he made a number of impactful plays, in particular in the rainy day win at Tennessee. He had two interceptions and knocked star WR A.J. Brown out of the game with a teeth gnashing shot to the rib cage. King re-signed with the Texans this past offseason on a two year deal.
27 - DB Kendall Sheffield
2021 stats (ATL) - nine games, four tackles Signed with the Texans in 2022.
Sheffield started twenty games for the Falcons in his first two seasons in the league, but in 2021, he was stuck behind Moreau and Pro Bowl star CB A.J. Terrell. He was surprisingly released in May 2022 and GM Nick Caserio jumped all over the opportunity to add the blazing fast, Houston homeboy to the roster. Although the team was just in shorts and T-shirts, Sheffield made a handful of plays in OTAs/minicamp that caught my attention…and others.
29 - DB M.J. Stewart
2021 stats (CLE) - 13 games, three starts, four PD, 47 tackles, two TFL Signed with the Texans in 2022
Stewart set career highs in tackles, passes defensed, forced fumbles and TFLs in the 2021 season as a member of the Cleveland Browns. He signed a one year deal to come to Houston and compete for an opportunity at the safety position. Coming out of North Carolina, he was one of my draft crushes in 2018 but he bounced around a bit, position-wise, and that may have kept him from establishing a true foundation there. Cleveland's loss is Houston's gain and Stewart will have plenty of opportunity here to take his career to a new level.
32 - LB Garret Wallow
2021 stats - 17 games, two starts, 23 tackles, 1.0 sack, two TFL, one QB hit Drafted #170 overall, 5th round in 2021
In 2021, it took a while for Wallow to get playing time at the LB position. But, injuries and COVID stretched the depth at every single position late in the year, especially at his position. However, his consistent impact on special teams helped open the door for Wallow to get playing time on defense when the linebacker crew suffered losses. In December, he had a highly impressive start on the road at Jacksonville, registering 11 tackles and one sack in the 14-point win over the Jaguars. During OTA/minicamp practices, he showed that he was ready to make that year one-to-year two leap and I'm as excited about his prospects in this defense as any young player on the roster.
34 - LB Troy Hairston
2021 stats (at Central Michigan) - 13 games, 9.0 sacks, 17.0 TFL, 55 tackles Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2022
Hairston was a house of fire off the edge at Central Michigan, racking up the 2020 co-MAC Defensive Player of the Year award and 2x 1st Team All-MAC honors in 2020 and 2021. Now, he's not built like an edge player in the slightest (he's 5-11), so it'll be interesting how the Texans plan on utilizing the former Chippewa star. He's a skilled pass rusher but that might not ultimately be how the Texans use him during training camp and beyond. He spent some time at fullback during the offseason and that might be his home going forward. I've got to say, I'm intrigued. Very intrigued.
35 - DB Grayland Arnold
2021 stats - four games, one tackle Signed with the Texans during the 2021 season, signed extension in 2022
Arnold came to the Texans during the 2021 season but didn't get a ton of opportunity to show what he could do as a result of that late timing. He'll get that time during training camp to prove that the former Baylor star has the versatility and toughness to impact this team in some way, shape or form in 2022.
36 - DB Jonathan Owens
2021 stats - seven games, two starts, one INT, 18 tackles, one fumble recovery Signed in Houston in 2019, signed extension late in 2021
In week 14 at Jacksonville last season, Owens started for the first time in his three year career and finished with eight tackles, while playing 100% of the team's 70 defensive snaps. He was just getting going, though, as the following week, he started again and had the first interception of his career, a key moment in the Texans' win over the Chargers. Unfortunately, early in the game at San Francisco in week 17, he injured his wrist and has been rehabbing ever since. That said, he flashed some serious potential in 2021 and Texans head coach Lovie Smith has often mentioned how well Owens fits The Profile for a safety in this defense.
37 - DB Tavierre Thomas
2021 stats - 17 games, eight starts, 86 tackles, 1.0 TFL, two INT, one pick six, four PD, one FF Signed with the Texans in 2021
No secondary player had as good a year as Thomas. His emergence sort of was like eating a jalapeno pepper. At first, the heat doesn't really kick in, but as time goes on, the heat rises and sustains itself for a while. By the end? It has your full attention. Thomas really started catching my eye early in the season and I remember thinking "man, TT is making some DUDE plays lately", but it became that much more evident every single week HOW much of an impact he was making. Thomas stepped into the inside slot/nickel role once Desmond King moved to the outside and he took off. He tackled anything that moved, made a number of plays on the ball and even had the first pick six of his career in the win over the Chargers. Call it a breakout year or whatever you choose, but once Thomas finally got a shot, he more than made the most of it.
38 - DB Jacobi Francis
2021 stats (at Memphis) - 12 games, 36 tackles, 4.5 TFL, seven PBU, two INT Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2022
In OTAs/minicamp, unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to see much from Francis as a Texan, but there was plenty to get excited about in his six years at Memphis. He saw the field as early as his redshirt freshman season in 2017 and started 35 games in his final three seasons (2019, 2020 and 2021). Tough, competitive and extremely smart, Francis made a ton of plays at Memphis where I wondered whether he had actually been in the opposing huddle. He has solid ball skills/tracking skills down the field. He just needs to get fully healthy before training camp and display those competitive skills in one-on-ones and on all special teams situations in training camp.
39 - DB Tristin McCollum
2021 stats (at Sam Houston) - 12 games, 52 tackles, 2.5 TFL Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2022
I called at least ten of Tristin's games at Sam Houston throughout his entire five year career. He was instrumental on a defense that was one of the best in the nation, a defense that led the 2020 team to a national championship in the spring of 2021. Lovie Smith has mentioned players fitting the profile at certain positions and McCollum has all those attributes - height, weight, size and football IQ. He's a gem of a young man who will need to carve out opportunities on special teams early in his career, but his speed and football acumen should hopefully get the staff's attention in due time. In that way, he reminds me of Jonathan Owens who followed that same playbook, if you will. When HIS time finally came in December to start and contribute, Owens starred and, eventually, so can McCollum. However, he will start training camp on the PUP list, but when healthy, he can return to the practice field.
43 - LB Neville Hewitt
2021 stats - 17 games, five starts, 60 tackles, one TFL, one QB hit Signed with the Texans in 2021
The Tackling Machine with the Neck Roll returns to the Texans in 2022 and that'll give the run defense a significant boost. Hewitt started five games for the Texans last year and racked up 60 tackles in the process. He plays with impressively explosive speed and violence and when he arrives at the football, he's usually in a bad mood…which is good. Very good. Over the past three seasons, Hewitt has averaged nearly 90 tackles per season and certainly delivers messages to those in different colored jerseys. Mark my words, there'll be a Neville Hewitt-Dameon Pierce collision during training camp that'll shake the foundation of the Houston Methodist Training Center. Maybe more than one.
44 - LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
2021 stats (DET) - 15 games, 11 starts, 82 tackles, 4.0 TFL, one QB hit, two FF, four PBU Signed with the Texans in 2022
Coming out of the University of Tennessee for the 2017 Draft, Reeves-Maybin was one of my favorite linebacker prospects in that draft class. But, it wasn't until the 2021 season that he became a consistent starter for the Lions. He started 11 games, racking up 82 total tackles and two forced fumbles for the Lions defense. When he became available this offseason, GM Nick Caserio snapped Reeves-Maybin up to help strengthen this linebacking corps.
45 - DL Ogbo Okoronkwo
2021 stats (LAR) - 13 games, 2.0 sacks, 3.0 TFL, 15 tackles, two FF, six QB hits Signed with his hometown Texans in 2022
The past few weeks, a healthy handful of 2017 Oklahoma games have popped up on my Youtube suggestion list and I can't ever turn away from watching that dynamic team. As such, Ogbo jumped off the screen numerous times and reminded me what he can do with this Texans defense. The former Alief Taylor star had the opportunity to return home to play for the Texans in 2022 and jumped on it near the start of free agency back in March. In LA, he flashed his pass rushing acumen, but was often stuck behind some of the best to play the game. In Houston, though, he'll have an opportunity to show that he's more than just a pass rushing threat.
48 - LB Christian Harris
2021 stats (at Alabama) - 15 games, 79 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, two FF Drafted #75 overall, 3rd round in 2022
Harris' selection prompted the Hug Heard Around the World in the Texans draft room and for good reason. The former Alabama star should fit this defensive scheme hand in glove. Then again, he would fit nearly every defensive scheme in the NFL, given his speed, block destruction and ability to make plays at the second level. The linebacker group is constructed much differently than 2021, but the mix of veterans, spiced with the additions of Wallow, drafted last year, and Harris, drafted in 2022, should make it an even more dynamic second level unit in 2022.
49 - LB Jake Hansen
2021 stats (at Illinois) - six games, 33 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, two FF Signed as rookie UDFA in 2022
The Floridian seemed to run everything down in his career, flying sideline to sideline, leading the Illini defense in numerous ways and statistical categories. Stop me (not really) if you've heard this about a Lovie Smith coached defender; Hansen led the NATION in takeaways over the final two seasons of Smith's tenure (2019-2020) in Champaign. Hansen had a combined 14 in those two years and finished second all-time at Illinois with 12 career forced fumbles, sitting only one behind the great Simeon Rice. He just has to get healthy and show what he can do at this level.
51 - LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
2021 stats - 14 games, 14 starts, 108 tackles, 13.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, one INT, two FF, five QB hits Signed with the Texans in 2021, signed contract extension in 2022
Early in the 2021 training camp, it became truly obvious that KG-H should be on the field in some way, shape and/or form. I'm not sure that since I've been in the building I've seen a player have a better training camp than Kamu had in 2021. Fortunately, that didn't stop once the season began. He started 14 games and posted career highs in nearly every single statistical category. Heading into the 2021 season, he had 126 career tackles, which he then nearly equaled, posting 108 in the 14 games he played last year. He doubled his career TFL number after racking up 13 during the season. He had a game changing INT against the Tennessee Titans in a massive win on the road. He was all over the place during the 2021 season and it was clear that he fit this Lovie Smith defense hand in glove. As such, it was great news when he re-signed this offseason to return for 2022.
52 - DL Jonathan Greenard
2021 stats - 12 games, 12 starts, 8.0 sacks, 9.0 TFL, 33 tackles, 12 QB hits, two FF Drafted #90 overall, 3rd round in 2020
Greenard is THE man on the Texans defensive line as we enter the offseason. He finished the season with 8.0 sacks, 33 tackles, 12 QB hits and nine TFL on just 413 snaps in 11 games (actual game total is 12, but he missed the majority of the week four game against Buffalo with an injury). There is no bigger key for Greenard going forward than staying healthy. When he was on the field consistently, his numbers popped. But, when injuries and COVID struck during the season, he was severely missed and his return wasn't smooth from those maladies as well. Greenard missed a two game stretch to start the season (ankle), then missed the Miami game in week 11 and then missed a two week stretch in December against the Jaguars and Chargers due to COVID. Staying healthy is PARAMOUNT as Greenard heads into his third season.
53 - LB Blake Cashman
2021 stats (NYJ) - three games, one start, three tackles Traded to the Texans in 2022
Cashman came into the league in 2019 and, nearly immediately, showed that he could be a more than capable NFL starting LB. But, then injuries struck and slowed any progress that he made early in his rookie season. Since 2019, he's only played 14 games, starting seven of those games as he struggled with those maladies. If he's healthy, Cashman can absolutely fly and that's a big part of his game. I just want to see him healthy for this team to show that what he flashed early in his career hasn't left him.
55 - DL Jerry Hughes
2021 stats (BUF) - 17 games, 16 starts, 2.0 sacks, seven QB hits, 1.0 TFL, 18 tackles, two FF Signed with the Texans in 2022
Similar to Okoronkwo, the Fort Bend ISD product, a former All-District RB star, returns home to Houston for the opportunity to bolster the edge pass rush presence for the Texans. Hughes doesn't have quite the juice that he did when he racked up double digit sacks in his first couple of seasons in Buffalo. But, he can still get to the QB and that's of great value in this league, in particular, right here in Houston. It was clear watching him during OTA/minicamp that he still has the bend, twitch and know-how to get to the QB.
56 - DL Thomas Booker IV
2021 stats (at Stanford) - 12 games, 59 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks, six QB hurries Drafted #150 overall, 5th round in 2022
Booker was an interior stalwart for the Cardinal in the PAC-12 and he excelled due to his smarts, quick/powerful hands and quickness up the field. He tested extremely well at the Combine and that shows up on tape with the way he plays on the field. Active and explosive, Booker can play any interior spot and his scheme versatility is a definite asset. I'm really curious how the Texans use Booker on the defensive line in 2022 and beyond.
57 - LB Kevin Pierre-Louis
2021 stats - nine games, one start, ten tackles, one fumble recovery Signed with the Texans in 2021
In the two seasons prior to coming to the Texans, KPL was a tackling savant for the artist formerly known as the Washington Football Team. As such, it was a frustrating season for KPL in 2021 as he struggled with injuries throughout the campaign. He was only able to play in nine games last season, but he's back to show what he can do in 2022.
58 - LB Christian Kirksey
2021 stats - 13 games, 12 starts, 93 tackles, 6.0 TFL, two QB hits, two fumble recoveries, one INT Signed with the Texans in 2021, signed a contract extension in 2022
There was no more calming influence and more effective leader on the 2021 defense than Kirksey. I told him that I wished he had been in Houston, for those reasons, a lot earlier in his career. But, thankfully, he was there in 2021 and signed to return in 2022. Similarly to how Wu-Tang's artists believed that RZA was the Abbot for their group, the Texans defenders seemed to look at Kirksey in the same way. He was the Abbot for the Texans defense last year and could be the same as he returns to Houston for 2022. Last year, he posted 93 tackles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and six TFL.
69 - DL Kurt Hinish
2021 stats (at Notre Dame) Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2022
Hinish always had my attention when watching Notre Dame games. First of all, he was a DL wearing #41, so that always caught my eyes. But, he made some eye popping plays in his Notre Dame career as well. Similarly to Booker, he's built like a guy who can play from guard to guard with some juice up the field but also possesses the ability to hold his own against single blocks at the point of attack. He got his career off to a solid start in OTA/minicamp as he impressed the coaching staff throughout the offseason.
75 - DL Adedayo Odeleye
2021 stats (European League) - eight games, 7.0 sacks Signed through NFL's International Pathway Program in 2022
Odeleye was in the NFL's International Pathway Program in 2021 but the NFL passed on him, mainly, because he had only played one year of American football in the UK. So, he moved to Germany and played for the Berlin Thunder of the European League of Football. Odeleye piled up seven sacks in only eight games and that earned him a spot on the All Europe team and an invitation to the European League of Football All-Star game. At 6-5, 265 lb., he's WELL put together but to say he's raw is an understatement. If his improvement in just one season overseas is any indication of what he could grow into down the road, signing him is a risk worth taking.
90 - DL Ross Blacklock
2021 stats - 14 games, two starts, 2.0 sacks, 2.0 TFL, six QB hits, 22 tackles, two TFL, one FF Drafted #40 overall, 2nd round in 2020.
This is a massively important training camp for Blacklock, the Texans 2nd round pick in 2020. As I've said throughout the offseason, he's shown some flashes and those flashes are SUPER BRIGHT. But, those flashes need to be sustained for more significant periods of time in games and the season. There are 17 defensive linemen on the roster and the Texans re-signed Maliek Collins, drafted Thomas Booker and have an emerging interior stalwart in Roy Lopez on the interior. That said, if, IF Blacklock taps in consistently, he can set the whole thing off…OFF, I said!!
91 - DL Roy Lopez Jr.
2021 stats - 16 starts, 15 games, 5.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 31 tackles, one fumble recovery Drafted #195 overall, 6th round in 2021
From the first day that I saw Lopez in camp as a rookie, I just knew…and I wasn't alone. Texans fans fell in love with the Arizona native and he improved each and every week. In year two, it's going to be key to not fall off from that level and continue to raise his overall play, especially in a division that features three opponents that are going to run the rock as much as any in the NFL. Lopez Jr. is a MASSIVE key in stopping those AFC South running attacks.
92 - DL Rasheem Green
2021 stats (SEA) - 17 games, 16 starts, 6.5 sacks, 15 QB hits, six TFL, 48 tackles, four PD Signed with the Texans in 2022
The day after the draft, GM Nick Caserio answered the "why didn't you draft any defensive ends?" question with the signing of the versatile Green, among others. After registering a career high 6.5 sacks last year, Green was not brought back to Seattle due in large part to the change in the Seahawks defensive scheme. Once Green became available, Caserio didn't wait long to snatch up the freakish former USC Trojan, who can play inside and outside in a four man surface.
93 - DL Damion Daniels
2021 stats (at Nebraska) - 11 games, 33 tackles, 2.0 TFL, two PBU Signed as rookie UDFA with the Texans in 2022
The rookie from Nebraska certainly looks the part and seemed to hold up well in OTAs and minicamp. But, the pads go on in training camp and that's where separation begins. That said, Daniels is strong at the point of attack and can defeat double teams; if he can flash some pass rush acumen from inside, he'll catch plenty of important eyes.
94 - DL Demone Harris
2021 stats - one game, one start Signed with the Texans during the 2021 season, re-signed with the Texans in 2022
Harris joined the Texans last year over the last half of the 2021 season. We didn't get to see much of him, so I want to study him closely during intense training camp sessions and preseason games. If he can show some juice off the edge during one-on-ones and passing situations in preseason games, Harris will find himself right at home in Houston for 2022.
95 - DL Derek Rivers
2021 stats - five games, one start, 1.0 sack, nine tackles, two TFL, one QB hit Signed with the Texans in 2021, re-signed with the Texans in 2022
I absolutely loved Rivers coming out of Youngstown State and was gutted back in 2017 when the Patriots drafted him in the third round. Since then, though, he's been slowed by injuries and that's really kept him from locking down a permanent position on the edge. When he was healthy last year, he was a disruptive rusher from the edge, especially so in his last game of the year at Jacksonville - three tackles, one sack, two TFL and one QB hit. The twitch and athleticism are certainly there.
96 - DL Maliek Collins
2021 stats - 15 games, 15 starts, 29 tackles, 2.5 sacks, nine TFL, seven QB hits, one INT Signed with the Texans in 2021, signed contract extension in 2022
The Engine. That's what Lovie Smith called Collins back before he re-signed with the Texans this past offseason. The quickness. The strength. His burst off the snap. Collins showed all of his assets last season and, man, he had moments of really being impressive. His leadership was key on the defensive line last year too, so in his second year in this defense, I can't wait to see how he leads that defensive line group in 2022.
97 - DL Mario Addison
2021 stats (BUF) - 17 games, 7.0 sacks, 29 tackles, eight TFL, seven QB hits, two FF Signed with the Texans in 2022
The Texans signed Addison a few days after the draft and when they did, I went back to watch Addison with Buffalo last season. I worried a little bit about a guy in his mid-30s, rushing the edge, but he was as effective last year as he had been four or five years prior. Relentless. Excellent at redirecting. Outstanding leader. He was unable to participate in OTA/minicamp practices, but I saw him fully engaged throughout the entire process. If nothing else, he's a tremendous resource for the young guns on that defensive line.
98 - DL Michael Dwumfour
2021 stats - three games, one start, 0.5 sack, five tackles, two TFL, three QB hits Signed during the 2021 season, signed a futures contract in 2022
First off, the New Jersey native is built like a tank. His lower half nearly blocks out the sun. But, he has some quick feet to allow him to navigate leverage battles and win with his hands. He only played in three games, but there were moments in every one where he made a play, or in some cases two in a row, where he looked like another #98 that patrolled the middle a few years ago (D.J. Reader). Now, that's a mouthful because Reader's become one of the best interior players in the league, but as a young buck, he and Dwumfour weren't totally dissimilar. Here's hoping Dwumfour makes that year one to year two leap this year as well.
7 - K Kai’mi Fairbairn
2021 stats - 15 of 19 FG (including 61-yarder v. SEA), 13 of 16 XPT, 58 points,
Signed as a rookie UDFA in 2016, signed extension in 2020.
I don't want to ever call a kicker Ol' Reliable, but Kai'mi is truly that for this organization. Now, he's certainly not old and has plenty left in that right leg howitzer entering the 2022 season. He's had very few hiccups and hit a few valley, or two, over the years, but he's also been as accurate and productive as any kicker in Texans history. He's a tremendous weapon from as far away as 60+ yards as he showed against Seattle last season.
11 - P Cam Johnston
2021 stats - 1st in the NFL in punting yards in 2021, 46.7 yards/punt, 2nd best avg in career.
Signed with the Texans in 2021
As valuable a weapon in the kicking game as there is in the league, Johnston has a thunder-stick for a leg and a marksman's like accuracy with his punts. He's one of the best the Texans have seen in their existence and is back for year number two with the team.
46 - LS Jon Weeks
2021 stats - 17 games, good snap after good snap Signed as an UDFA in 2010, signed extensions in 2012, 2015, 2020 and 2022
Man, what is there to say about Weeks who just churns out one perfect snap after the other? Consistency and greatness are what we all seek in all of our jobs and Weeks produces that week in and week out, doing so since 2010. I've thought long and hard the past couple of seasons about what I want out of the players that take the field and I keep coming back to Weeks - great dude, unreal teammate, highly productive and consistent as the day is long.