Five Texans who need Thursday's game

HOUSTON -- The bottom of teams' rosters get sorted out during their final preseason games. Players the coaches need to see more in games get much more playing time than they did at any other point. Some starters, of whom they've seen enough, might not even play at all.

Here are five Houston Texans players who need to make a strong impression Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers:

  1. WR Travis Labhart: He was 98 pounds as a freshman in high school and still isn't very big, though he's doubled that weight. He caught the game-winning two-point conversion from rookie quarterback Tom Savage in Denver. Another strong game on Thursday and Labhart could force his way onto the Texans' roster in one of their most talented position groups.

  2. FS Shiloh Keo: Last season, Keo started over Ed Reed. That said more about Reed than it did about Keo. This offseason the Texans immediately set to add safeties, and picked up two. Keo, who has missed the past two games, might see his run with the Texans over unless he can make a case for himself Thursday night.

  3. K Chris Boswell: Boswell will likely do punting and kicking against the 49ers. His bid to unseat incumbent kicker Randy Bullock took a hit in Week 2 when Boswell missed two extra points. They were longer extra points, sure, but still have a very high success rate among kickers. It's unlikely Boswell would stick with the Texans, barring an injury to Bullock, but a strong performance could get him a chance somewhere else.

  4. NT Ricardo Mathews: Mathews is a versatile player who has some pass-rushing ability, which is not a must but is a plus at his position. With Jerrell Powe and third-round draft pick Louis Nix, who is still catching up, on the roster, a good game from Mathews could make him indespensible to the Texans.

  5. ILB Max Bullough: A good college player, Bullough drew compliments from his teammates and coaches early on in the offseason. Bullough has played well. He caught one interception this preseason and assisted another. He's still learning a lot of what comes with his position, and has had some moments of confusion. It's not easy for any undrafted rookie to make an NFL roster.