Kubiak has tough decisions to make

September 2, 2011 8:39:59 PM PDT
Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Friday he was still mulling his final roster cuts leading up to Saturday's deadline, including a tough decision at running back. The Texans wrapped up the preseason with a 28-0 loss to Minnesota on Thursday night. Kubiak held out all of his projected starters so he could get one last look at his second- and third-stringers, many of whom are competing for jobs.

All teams must trim their rosters to 53 players by Saturday.

Kubiak said a factor in the last cuts will be the numbers of players at certain positions. Houston had an overabundance of defensive backs (14) on the roster before Thursday's game.

"You may go light in one spot and heavy in one spot," he said. "It's a long season. A lot of things have to come into account as you're putting a team together."

Kubiak may have to consider carrying extra depth at running back with Arian Foster's status still uncertain for the season opener against Indianapolis on Sept. 11. He said Foster's strained left hamstring remains "a concern," though he added "everything's moving in the right direction."

Foster, the NFL's leading rusher in 2010, caused a stir when he posted a photo of an MRI scan of his injury on his Twitter page this week. Kubiak said the team will issue any discipline for Foster "internally."

"Obviously we'll handle that here," Kubiak said. "But I'm worried about football. That's my concern."

Ben Tate and Derrick Ward have secured the backup roles behind Foster, and Kubiak has a difficult call to make beyond that.

Chris Ogbonnaya, a former seventh-round draft pick, was the only running back to avoid an injury during training camp, and he was the Texans' leading rusher in the preseason. He's taken snaps ahead of Steve Slaton, a former third-round draft pick, who sat out all four preseason games with a hamstring injury.

Kubiak said he only held Slaton out of the preseason finale as a precaution.

"He was healthy enough to play," Kubiak said. "He was coming off the hamstring, we really only had two practices going into that game and one of those was a walk-through, so I did not feel comfortable putting him out there on (artificial) turf after he had been gone for so long.

"It was just a decision on my part and I obviously wanted to watch Ogbonnaya play a great deal."

Kubiak could also choose to only carry three running backs.

"That's going to be worked out," Kubiak said. "I think you keep good football players. Steve's a good football player, so we'll have to see how that pans out."

While Kubiak would not reveal any cuts that have already been made, he hinted that receiver Bryant Johnson and defensive end Tim Jamison made strong cases to make the team.

The Texans acquired the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Johnson on Tuesday, a month after he was cut by Detroit. The eight-year veteran caught three passes for 64 yards in Thursday's game, two from Matt Leinart, his former teammate in Arizona.

Kubiak has been looking for a No. 4 receiver behind Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter.

"You're fortunate to get a player like that," Kubiak said. "First off, not only has he been successful in this league and he's a veteran, but he and Matt (Leinart) had played together some, so there's a little connection right there.

"He knew some of our terminology, so he went and played right away," Kubiak said. "It was impressive. He's a very impressive person and it was good to see him go out there and still make some plays. He can help us."

The 6-3, 270-pound Jamison led the Texans in the preseason with five tackles for loss and also recovered a fumble. He was competing with Tim Bulman for the backup role behind Antonio Smith.

"He was exceptional (Thursday) night and has been throughout training camp," Kubiak said. "It's fun film to watch on the plane, to watch him compete. It really was."

Kubiak said he'll start preparing for the Colts on Saturday. The Texans played one of their best games of last season in the opener, beating the Colts 34-24, and Kubiak feels equally optimistic about his team's readiness this year.

"Last year, we reacted very good from a conditioning level in the second half of that opener, so how do we do this year?" he said. "I think our conditioning level is good once again. Every team's different. This will be a big one, just like it always is, being a divisional game and an opener also."

Load Comments