Texans' 53-man roster projection up in the air at skill positions

The Houston Texans open training camp on July 25 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACKS (3): Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson, Brandon Weeden

While there will be a battle between Savage and Watson to see who the Texans' starting quarterback will be to start the season, there is little doubt all three will make the 53-man roster.

RUNNING BACKS (5): Lamar Miller, D'Onta Foreman, Alfred Blue, Tyler Ervin, Akeem Hunt

The Texans probably won’t keep five running backs, and the extra roster spot likely would go somewhere on defense. Right now, though, no one stands out enough to merit a spot on this projection. Ervin could see time in the slot this season, and Hunt could play on special teams again. Houston also likes undrafted rookie Dare Ogunbowale, and if he impresses on special teams, he could leap Blue or Hunt.

FULLBACK (1): Jay Prosch

Coach Bill O’Brien sees value in the fullback position and the job Prosch does for the Texans. He is the only fullback on the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5): DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Jaelen Strong, Braxton Miller, Wendall Williams

Hopkins had a dip in production last season, and the Texans dealt with a lot of injuries in their receiving corps. Houston hopes with a new quarterback -- whether it’s Savage or Watson -- the receivers will be more involved in the offense this season and the passing game improves. Williams' speed and athleticism are intriguing, and he could take the roster spot that Keith Mumphery had out of training camp last year.

TIGHT ENDS (3): C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin, Stephen Anderson

Fiedorowicz and Griffin had career years last season thanks to quarterback Brock Osweiler's dependence on the tight ends; the 175 targets and 115 receptions were the second most in the NFL. That likely won’t be the case again this season, but the Texans like the group of three they had in 2016. Anderson is a potential breakout candidate in his second season.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Duane Brown, Jeff Allen, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Greg Mancz, Chris Clark, Kendall Lamm, Nick Martin, Julien Davenport, Kyle Fuller

There are still a lot of question marks on the offensive line, particularly at right tackle. The Texans could keep only eight linemen, and since he’s the third center on the depth chart right now, there’s a possibility that seventh-round pick Kyle Fuller would be the odd man out. Clark also could be on the bubble and will be competing for his job during training camp.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7): J.J. Watt, Christian Covington, D.J. Reader, Jadeveon Clowney, Brandon Dunn, Carlos Watkins, Joel Heath

The biggest addition the Texans will get this season is Watt, who missed all but three games last year with a back injury. Reader will replace Vince Wilfork, and former Clemson teammate Watkins should get some playing time as well.

LINEBACKERS (7): Brian Cushing, Benardrick McKinney, Brian Peters, Zach Cunningham, Dylan Cole, Whitney Mercilus, Brennan Scarlett

The Texans hope they have drafted Cushing's eventual replacement in Cunningham, who should get a lot of opportunities during training camp to earn playing time, especially on special teams. So far the Texans also have been impressed by Cole, an undrafted rookie.

SAFETIES (5): Andre Hal, Lonnie Ballentine, Eddie Pleasant, K.J. Dillon, Corey Moore

The Texans will miss Quintin Demps, who had a team-high six interceptions last season. The unit finished second in passing defense in 2016 and could rely on Corey Moore to fill his place, with Hal as the other starting safety.

CORNERBACKS (5): Johnathan Joseph, Kevin Johnson, Kareem Jackson, Robert Nelson, Treston Decoud

The Texans lost cornerback A.J. Bouye -- who was Houston’s best at the position -- to free agency, and he leaves a big hole to fill. Houston is counting on a healthy Johnson, who was the Texans' third corner until he broke his foot last season, to make an impact in place of Bouye.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Punter Shane Lechler, kicker Nick Novak, long-snapper Jonathan Weeks

The Texans brought back Lechler and Novak this offseason, so this trio likely will stay the same. O’Brien does like competition all over the roster, so kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn will be given a chance to compete with Novak.