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Houston Texans

Thoughts on roster moves

The Turk arrived early for the Texans on Monday, in more ways than one.

The signing of unrestricted free agent punter Matt Turk sends a strong signal to Chad Stanley that he better not look over his shoulder during training camp and preseason.

Stanley, who was signed to a one-year deal earlier this year, will have the most serious competition in his six seasons with the Texans.

And it's necessary.

Stanley struggled last season, finishing 29th in the league with a 41.5 gross average. He had 15 punts inside the 20 and five touchbacks.

With the Rams last season, Turk enjoyed his best season since 1997 finishing 18th in the league with a 43.5 average. He hit 26 punts inside the 20 with five touchbacks. Ten of the Rams' 16 games were indoors last season

This is Turk's 13th season, the majority spent with the Redskins and Dolphins. He recently turned 39 years old, so even if he beats out Stanley, don't view this as a long-term fix. He's not Shane Lechler, but he could improve the performance at the position and that's what the Texans are trying to do across the board.

The other Turk (the unlucky guy who gets to inform players that they are released and collect their playbooks) on Monday paid a visit to FB Cory Anderson, G Atlas Herrion, C Enoka Lucas, CB Derrick Roberson, RB Darius Walker, P Eric Wilbur and LB Zac Woodfin.

The roster moves were necessary for the Texans to meet the maximum training camp roster limit of 80 players plus roster exemptions. Roster exemptions are granted for players who participated in the 2007 NFL Europa season. Those exemptions expire on Aug. 28 or Sept. 1 depending on which website you hit.

Rosters will be cut down to 75 players on Aug. 28, and 53 players on Sept. 1.

A mild surprise to some Texans fans may have been the early release of Walker, but considering running back is all of a sudden the deepest position on the team, Walker would have been looking at a practice squad at best situation.

Last year, the Texans kept five running backs and fullbacks.

Ahman Green, Ron Dayne and Vonta Leach appear to be the locks at this point.

That leaves two spots for Wali Lundy, Samkon Gado, Chris Taylor and Jameel Cook. If Taylor can play both spots (and hold on to the ball) he has an excellent shot at making the 53.

Gado has more experience in the power-counter component of the running game than Lundy, who is smaller and more of an inside-outside zone runner than Gado.

The Texans should look for the best combination of power, speed and quickness in the backfield corps to make them effective while remaining flexible. Having too many power runners can hurt a team as much as having too few.

At any rate, the Taylor-Gado-Lundy battle will be fun to watch during camp. Cook is probably looking at an uphill battle to make this team.

And as always, special teams play also will weigh heavily in the decision on who makes the team at RB/FB.

You can email Alan Burge at:

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