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The Louis Nix III saga with the Texans ends

Louis Nix started all of the Texans' preseason games, but it wasn't enough to earn a roster spot. Bob Levey/AP

HOUSTON -- When a coach talks about the player the way Texans coach Bill O'Brien has talked about Louis Nix III, that player is on notice.

Apparently, the Texans did not like how Nix responded to that challenge. Nix was released Friday a source confirmed, just two years after the Texans traded up to draft him in the third round.

Today's move was another blow to the Texans' third-round drafting history. They drafted seven players since 2012 in the third round, a round that can produce starters. Only three of those seven still remain with the team -- starting right guard Brandon Brooks (2012), tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (2014) and receiver Jaelen Strong (2015). The players drafted in the third round who are no longer with the team are DeVier Posey (2012), Brennan Williams and Sam Montgomery (2013) and Nix (2014).

Nix started all of the Texans' preseason games, including their fourth preseason game in which most of the starters rested. He was starting in place of Vince Wilfork, whom the Texans rested in their exhibition games. The Texans gave him every chance to keep his job, but liked what they got out of rookie Christian Covington more.

As recently as last week, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was moderately complimentary of Nix.

"I think Louis has improved," Crennel said. "He’s working. We didn’t get a chance to see him work a whole lot last year, but he’s working hard. He’s shown improvement on the field. We still have a ways to go, but he’s working at it and improving."

O'Brien, too, had praised Nix's improvement this offseason in his work ethic and focus. That was a shift from before the Texans' offseason program began. In March, O'Brien had some cutting words about Nix.

"I have not seen Louis Nix," O'Brien said at the league meetings. "I don't know. He’s working out somewhere in Florida I guess. Haven’t seen him. But that’s their prerogative, so don’t read anything into that. When they show back up here for the offseason program, especially the younger players, the younger players need to be ready to roll. So hopefully he’s ready to go."

Some other confirmed cuts include running back Kenny Hilliard, outside linebacker Kourtnei Brown, safety Corey Moore, receiver Damaris Johnson and outside linebacker Max Bullough. Moore and Hilliard are two I expect to return to the practice squad.