Texans go light on defensive line, heavy on receivers

HOUSTON -- Here's a player-by-player look at the Houston Texans' 53-man roster.

Quarterbacks (2)

Brian Hoyer: Won the Texans quarterback battle this offseason and will begin the season as the team's starter, well aware that he'll need to play well to keep his spot.

Ryan Mallett: Disappointed he didn't win the job, Mallett said he is confident he'll get an opportunity this year. The Texans are keeping only two quarterbacks since developmental quarterback Tom Savage landed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Running backs (4)

Arian Foster: Foster's rehab is going so well the Texans did not need to place him on short-term injured reserve, which would have delayed his return until Week 10. There's hope that he could be back within the first four games of the season.

Alfred Blue: He'll have a chance to show off his improved third-down skills in the Texans' first few games as their starter.

Jonathan Grimes: Grimes had a strong preseason and earned a rest in the Texans' fourth preseason game. His pass-catching ability will be useful for the Texans.

Chris Polk: Impressed the Texans when facing them last year when Polk played for the Eagles. If he can stay healthy, he's a smooth runner who could help.

Fullbacks (1)

Jay Prosch: The 2014 draft pick thrives at a position that many teams don't keep, but the Texans find valuable.

Wide receivers (6)

DeAndre Hopkins: The superstar in the making leads a receiver group on which he's no longer the kid.

Nate Washington: The 11th-year player showed his value on the field and off it, with his ability to mentor young players, during the preseason.

Cecil Shorts III: His versatility was a big part of why the Texans picked him up in free agency. Shorts showed a strong run-after-the-catch ability as well.

Jaelen Strong: Arizona State played at NRG Stadium over the weekend and showed how much they missed Strong. The rookie third-round pick showed improvement during camp.

Keith Mumphery: The Texans were the only team to work him out and took him in the fifth round. He quickly impressed teammates and coaches with this ability.

Keshawn Martin: On the roster bubble for a second year in a row, Martin fought his way onto the 53, proving to the coaching staff he could fit in their system.

Tight ends (3)

Garrett Graham: Entering the second year of his second contract, Graham had a much improved preseason and should be a bigger factor in the Texans' passing attack.

C.J. Fiedorowicz: You'll see a tremendous jump from Fiedorowicz in his second year in this offense and in the NFL. He'll be a valuable blocker and pass catcher for the Texans.

Ryan Griffin: Entering his third season, Griffin remains one of the few players left on the roster from the Texans' 2013 draft.

Offensive Line (9)

Duane Brown: The left tackle suffered a hand injury during the preseason, but expects to be back Week 1. He's the longest tenured player on the Texans roster, entering his eighth season with the team.

Xavier Su'a-Filo: He was the first pick of the second round in 2014. While the Texans did not work him as their starting left guard during training camp, coach Bill O'Brien says he believes in Su'a-Filo's ability. Su'a-Filo suffered an injury during training camp.

Ben Jones: Playing center again is like coming home for Jones, who was a center in college. He takes over for veteran Chris Myers, who retired this offseason.

Brandon Brooks: He is entering a contract year after establishing himself as one of the team's most consistent players.

Derek Newton: The Texans rewarded Newton with a five-year, $26.5 million deal this offseason. They were pleased with his play last season.

Jeff Adams: Adams was claimed off waivers last year and spent training camp and the preseason as the Texans' starting left guard.

Chris Clark: The Texans brought in the swing tackle in a trade with the Broncos just before their final preseason game. He adds depth to their unit.

Greg Mancz: One of the Texans' priority undrafted free agents this year, they are optimistic about Mancz's future.

Kendall Lamm: With Brown out for the Texans' third preseason game, Lamm started at left tackle. Another undrafted rookie makes the team.

Defensive tackles (2)

Vince Wilfork: The big guy impressed the Texans with his agility and fitness this preseason. He rested for the exhibition games but is expected to draw attention on the field that improves the Texans' front.

Christian Covington: A little undersized, especially compared to Wilfork, but the Texans liked his work. They consider him an active pass-rusher who has improved in the 3-4 defense.

Defensive ends (3)

J.J. Watt: The two-time defensive player of the year was itching to get some action in the preseason, but there was simply no benefit to letting him play.

Jared Crick: Little talked about because of the guy opposite him, Crick has been a solid 3-4 defensive end, especially strong in run stopping, for several years.

Jeoffrey Pagan: Entering his second year, Pagan's playing time slowly increased last season as he felt more comfortable in the Texans' defense.

Linebackers (9)

Brian Cushing: Healthier than he has been in years, the Texans inside linebacker feels like himself again.

Jadeveon Clowney: On his return from microfracture surgery, the Texans' medical staff has Jadeveon Clowney on a program for his return. That program included having him skip all of the preseason and will likely mean he's on a limited snap count early in the season. His long-term health is paramount.

Whitney Mercilus: The starting outside linebacker's improvement last year earned him a contract extension this offseason.

John Simon: The former fourth-round pick in Baltimore has carved out a role for himself with the Texans, aided by linebackers coach Mike Vrabel who was at Ohio State at the same time as Simon.

Benardrick McKinney: The Texans' rookie second-round pick will likely be eased into the starting lineup eventually.

Akeem Dent: Coming off an injury that led to his starting the season on the physically unable to perform list, Dent will have a chance to pick up where he left off last season. Dent started seven games, all of them in the season's final nine weeks.

Mike Mohamed: A very good player on passing downs, Mohamed started only one game but had 58 tackles last season.

Justin Tuggle: The Texans challenged Tuggle to be more physical this preseason and the inside linebacker delivered, earning a place on the Texans' roster again.

Carlos Thompson: The undrafted rookie was one of three such to make the team. Thompson converted from defensive end, which he played at Mississippi.

Cornerbacks (6)

Johnathan Joseph: Turned 31 and signed a three-year extension this offseason with an eye toward spending the rest of his career in Houston.

Kareem Jackson: Another recipient of a new contract this offseason, after growing into a dependable and versatile corner in the first four years of his NFL career.

A.J. Bouye: Played with a shoulder injury last year and remains the Texans third corner as they work rookie Kevin Johnson into the lineup.

Kevin Johnson: The Texans first-round pick proved during the preseason that he deserved to be selected there. He's working to adjust to the differences in NFL rules for defensive backs as he takes the next step.

Darryl Morris: Another waiver-wire pickup for the Texans in 2014, Morris started two games last season and played in 11, missing five with an ankle injury. He had seven passes defensed and an interception.

Jumal Rolle: His status with the Texans went right down to the wire. The Texans chose Rolle over Charles James. Rolle joined the Texans in October of last year and had three interceptions.

Safeties (5)

Rahim Moore: The free agent pickup was brought in to be one of the Texans' starting safeties this season.

Eddie Pleasant: Once an undrafted rookie trying to make the team, Pleasant might have secured a starting role this year.

Andre Hal: Drafted in 2014 as a corner, the Texans converted Hal to safety this offeason.

Quintin Demps: Last seen with the Texans in 2012, Demps spent time with the Chiefs and Giants in the interim. He returned during training camp with a legitimate shot to make the roster, and did.

Lonnie Ballentine: Earned a roster spot after spending his rookie year (2014) on injured reserve.

Specialists (3)

Randy Bullock: The Texans' fourth-year kicker set a franchise record with six field goals in a game last year against the Ravens.

Shane Lechler: Lechler, 39, holds the best gross punting average in NFL history at 47.5 yards per punt.

Jon Weeks: Has been the Texans' long snapper since signing as a rookie in 2010.