In a series of transactions, the Texans got down to the NFL roster limit of 53 players Tuesday afternoon.
That included cutting veteran wide receiver Chris Conley, tight end Antony Auclair, who missed nearly the entire training camp and preseason with a knee injury, veteran offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, a former first-round draft pick from Texas A&M, and placing defensive end Derek Rivers on injured reserve with a torn biceps.
“It is difficult, but in the end there aren’t hard decision to make," Texans coach Lovie Smith said Monday. "It’s a hard decision if we start making those decisions at the start of training camp, but now we’ve gone through the off season, training camp, preseason. In my first meeting, guys show us who they are. We’re watching everything that you do, so everybody’s had a chance to do that. Now, we’ll make informed decisions based on all of the information you can get, off the field, on the field. I’m excited about where I think we’ll end.”
The Texans have a pending roster move, planning to place rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano on short-term injured reserve. The Texans have another injured player to make a decision on: cornerback Tavierre Thomas, who's dealing with a pulled quadriceps that could sideline him for the first game of the season.
The Texans have just four wide receivers on their current roster: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Chris Moore and Phillip Dorsett.
They rank third on the NFL waiver priority order, so they could add a wide receiver that way or sign one as a free agent.
“This will be our approach throughout," Smith said. "We’re going to set our roster, but were always looking to improve. Improving our ball club is constant. Are there areas where we know what we have here but, yes, we’re looking to see who else is out there, available too? That’s a part of it. We have an excellent personnel staff working tirelessly behind the scenes. In the end, we’ll know what we need to do.”
They have eight linebackers on the roster: Christian Kirksey, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Christian Harris, Garret Wallow, Neville Hewitt, undrafted rookie Jake Hansen, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Blake Cashman.
The Texans' biggest moves were cutting former Indianapolis Colts 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack and trading former second-round defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, a former Elkins High and TCU standout, and a seventh-round draft pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick and cutting former starting left offensive guard and second-round draft pick Max Scharping.
The Texans placed the following players on waivers: safety Grayland Arnold, wide receiver Jalen Camp, wide receiver Drew Estrada, defensive back Jacobi Francis, tight end Seth Green, wide receiver Johnny Johnson III, center Jimmy Morrissey, international player Adedayo Odeleye, fullback Paul Quessenberry, Scharping, offensive linemen Jordan Steckler and Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms and wide receiver Connor Wedington.
The Texans released the following veteran players: tight end Antony Auclair, safety Terrence Brooks, wide receiver Chris Conley, quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Marlon Mack, defensive end Demone Harris, offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, a former starter, tight end Mason Schreck and cornerback Isaac Yiadom.
All of the Texans' draft picks made the roster, including first-round cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., first-round offensive guard Kenyon Green, second-round safety Jalen Pitre, third-round linebacker Christian Harris, fourth-round running back Dameon Pierce, fifth-round tight end Austin Deculus, fifth-round defensive tackle Thomas Booker IV and sixth-round offensive tackle Austin Deculus.
Three undrafted rookies made the 53-man roster: defensive tackle Kurt Hinish, fullback Troy Hairston and linebacker Jake Hansen.
The Texans waived-injured cornerback Kendall Sheffield.
Informing players they've been cut from the team is always a difficult experience.
“That’s tough," Smith said. "You feel for guys. I’m looking forward to all of the conversations because we all started at the same spot, and when you signed up for this, you knew this was a part of it too. It’s never any fun when you tell someone that we’re going a different direction.
"If they’ve done everything they’re supposed to do and they can play, there’s 32 teams. I haven’t only been at one team. If you’re a good coach or you’re a good player, there will be a spot for you somewhere.”
The Texans are cutting offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi to a one-year contract, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.
Texans rookie offensive lineman Austin Deculus, a sixth-round draft pick from LSU, made the 53-man roster.
Ogbuehi is a former Cincinnati Bengals first-round draft pick from Texas A&M.
He played for Texans offensive line coach George Warhop previously with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ogbuehi (6-foot-5, 306 pounds)
The Bengals declined the fifth-year option on Ogbuehi and he came a free agent in 2019..
Ogbuehi has also played for the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
He has played in 60 games with 57 career starts.
The Texans cut wide receivers Jalen Camp and Johnny Johnson III, per league sources.
Camp caught a touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints and honored rookie wide receiver John Metchie III with a celebration reminiscent of his crane kick pose he would do after touchdowns at Alabama.
Johnson caught a touchdown against the Saints, too.
He's a former undrafted free agent from Oregon.
Camp and Johnson are regarded as candidates for the practice squad.
The Texans are cutting former second-round draft pick Max Scharping, a former starting left offensive guard, per a league source.
Scharping had been eclipsed on the depth chart by first-round draft pick Kenyon Green and Justin McCray this preseason.
Scharping, a former All-Mid-American Conference selection and Senior Bowl selection from Northern Illinois, is expected to be a popular target on waivers.
The 6-foot-6, 327-pound Green Bay, Wisconsin native has played in 47 career games with 33 starts.
He started the final 14 games of his rookie season in 2019.
The Texans cut wide receiver Connor Wedington, per a league source.
He was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers this offseason.
Wedington is a former undrafted free agent from Stanford where he was teammates with Texans starting quarterback Davis Mills.
The Texans released veteran defensive end Demone Harris, per a league source.
Harris had a strong preseason, but defensive end is one of the Texans' deepest positions.
A former undrafted free agent from the University of Buffalo, Harris (6-foot-4, 272 pounds) was a Burlsworth Trophy nominee and second-team all-conference selection. A three-year starter, he had 55 tackles, five sacks and seven quarterback hurries as a senior.
He has played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs.
Harris has run the 40-yard dash in 4.77 seconds.
The Texans have released safety Terrence Brooks after signing him to a one-year, $2 million contract, according to a league source.
Brooks, 30, is a former Baltimore Ravens third-round draft pick from Florida State.
He played in 11 games last season for the Texans and had 20 tackles, no interceptions and one pass deflection. He was previously with the New England Patriots and New York Jets.
The Texans are waiving center Jimmy Morrissey, per league source, and could rejoin the team on practice squad. He could also be a candidate for waiver claims given the lack of depth at position around the league.
The Texans are cutting undrafted rookie tight end Seth Green, a former University of Houston player, per a league source.
The Texans are cutting veteran cornerback Kendall Sheffield, according to a league source.
He was claimed off waivers this offseason from the Atlanta Falcons.
Sheffield is a former Falcons fourth-round draft pick from Ohio State.
He's heading into the final year of a four-year, $3.3 million rookie contract.
He's due a $965,000 base salary.
Sheffield had four tackles in nine games in 2021 with no interceptions.
A Thurgood Marshall graduate and Missouri City native, Sheffield has 101 career tackles.
The Texans are cutting quarterback Jeff Driskel, per a league source. The team would like to have him back in some capacity.
The Texans are cutting safety Grayland Arnold, per a league source. Arnold had a sack in the preseason on a blitz against the Rams. Arnold had a strong preseason and is a candidate to be claimed off waivers. The former Baylor standout has made steady improvement over the past year.
The Texans cut undrafted rookie safety Tristin McCollum, per a league source.
McCollum is a rangy former Sam Houston State standout. The Texans would like to bring back the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder for their practice squad if he clears waivers.
The Texans cut reserve offensive lineman Jordan Steckler, per a league source.
Steckler is a candidate to join the Texans' practice squad and was a part of their practice squad last season.
The Texans released veteran tight end Mason Schreck, per a league source. He is a strong candidate to join the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Schreck caught a touchdown pass in a preseason victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Schreck has played in 23 career games with one start for the Cincinnati Bengals. He's a former seventh-round draft pick from the University of Buffalo.
Schreck (6-foot-5, 252 pounds) is an Ohio native and a former high school quarterback. He played in one game last season for the Bengals.