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Five players who need Thursday's Texans game to make the team

Kourtnei Brown, center, was all smiles after returning a preseason interception for a touchdown. He'll be even happier if he makes the team. AP/Patric Schneider

HOUSTON -- Texans coach Bill O'Brien said there are at least 10 spots out of the 53-man roster up for grabs in this final game. We'll take a look at five players who face a make-or-break situation on Thursday when the Texans face the Cowboys at 7 p.m. CT:

  • CB Charles James II: It wouldn't be accurate to call James a fan favorite at this point, because Texans fans aren't the only ones who love this guy. "Hard Knocks" has turned James into a celebrity and he's got people across America pulling for him to make the team. The issue for James is this: cornerback is one of the Texans' deepest positions. They have starters Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph, both of whom got new deals this offseason. First-round pick Kevin Johnson and A.J. Bouye, who has starting experience, are likely locks. That leaves James, Darryl Morris and Jumal Rolle to duke it out for the last spot or two, depending on how many the Texans keep. There's a good chance the Texans keep six cornerbacks, and with a strong showing on Thursday night, James could force himself onto the roster.

  • OLB Kourtnei Brown: Brown has had a knack for making plays this preseason. In his first game he had two sacks. In his second he caught an interception and returned it for a touchdown. In his third he recovered a fumble. We see Brown getting yelled at a lot on "Hard Knocks" as coach Mike Vrabel tries to get more out of him. The Texans aren't especially deep at outside linebacker after Whitney Mercilus, John Simon and Jadeveon Clowney, which gives Brown a shot. He has never been on an active NFL roster, but might be closer now than he's ever been.

  • WR Keshawn Martin: Martin has stuck with the Texans thanks to his versatility, both in the offense and on special teams. Five receiver spots are already set for the Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, Nate Washington, Cecil Shorts III and draft picks Jaelen Strong and Keith Mumphery. They'll keep five receivers unless a sixth forces his way onto the team, and Martin will have to have a very strong showing to make himself that player. He'll have to change some minds.

  • WR Uzoma Nwachukwu: Here is a player who tends to have very strong showings in organized team activities and in training camp. He runs solid routes. He has good hands most of the time. He hasn't yet been able to take that next step, but as his knowledge of the game has improved, he's increasing his chances. What could hurt Nwachukwu is that the Texans might be looking for whoever gets that sixth receiver slot to be a factor in the return game, but he does take special teams snaps.

  • C Greg Mancz: Mancz is a strong undrafted rookie candidate, as is tackle Kendall Lamm. I could see both of them with a chance to make the team. Lamm started on Sunday in place of Duane Brown, but the Texans already have two players who could serve as backup tackles -- Jeff Adams and Chris Clark, for whom they traded this week. Mancz is bigger than center James Ferentz, whom the Texans like, and he's greener, giving him a higher ceiling. He'll get a lot of playing time against the Cowboys to aid the Texans in their decision here.