ARLINGTON, Texas – At long last, the preseason is behind us and we can begin to focus on the regular season. Before we do that, there's one last matter of getting down to 53 players – and that's where my thoughts center tonight.
Here are my top 12 thoughts about the game and the roster cuts to come:
1) It appears that Davon Coleman is finally taking football seriously, and it is showing in his play. I had plenty of questions coming into this season about whether he was willing to be the type of player that he was capable of being, or whether he was he going to be a clown and give this staff no reason to keep him around. Coleman has been a force in the middle at both defensive tackle spots and there is no reason to believe that, if they need him to play, he can't give these coaches what they need.
2) I had my questions about Lucky Whitehead as the fifth receiver on this squad if he was not the returner, but it appears that will not be a problem. Whitehead showed he was dependable catching punts from one of the best punters in the league -- and with little or no blocking at times. And he was able to tilt the field on his own with a return. Whitehead can be a difference-maker on this special teams if given a chance. Against the Texans, I believe he earned that.
3) I continue to struggle with keeping four tight ends on this roster. I understand what I have with Jason Witten, James Hanna and Gavin Escobar, but I am not sure what I have with Geoff Swaim. What bothers me the most is that he is more similar to Escobar than he is to Hanna. I was hopeful that there was going to be a game this preseason where he was able to separate himself, and I just didn't see it. There are just too many other players on this roster that could give me more.
4) Not knowing what other running backs around the league might be available for practice squad duty, at this time I am going with Ben Malena as my guy. His height is not ideal, but I believe there are more things you can do with him offensively in order to develop him. He has me interested.
5) In my scouting career I was not asked to evaluate many kickers or punters, but from what I am seeing from Chris Jones, he appears to have picked up from where he left off last season. He has been outstanding in these games with his hang time and directional punting. Three of his five punts ended up inside the 20-yard line and his net of nearing 43 held the Texans in check the majority of the night.
6) The last time I saw Corey White play extensive snaps as the slot corner was in the Blue-White scrimmage, and that was a rough day against Cole Beasley. With limited defensive backs available, White was pressed into duty and more than held his own playing out of the slot. Where there might have been some questions before about whether he or Byron Jones would be the backup if something were to happen to Tyler Patmon -- the defensive staff should feel much better with him as an option.
7) Ken Bishop can only play as a nose tackle in this scheme -- which isn't the type of flexibility this defensive staff prefers. But Bishop made himself very hard to release on this final cut. Bishop is not for everyone because of his lack of height, but you would be hard pressed to find a player that gets more from his ability than him. He was all over the field, and the Texans found him difficult to block the entire night.
8) I wasn't surprised to see Jameill Showers not take one snap at quarterback. As I wrote in my pregame thoughts, I believe this staff has an idea about what he can do under center and there is no reason to give any club the opportunity to evaluate him any further. Smart move here in my opinion.
9) I am not sure what this front office is going to do with Jasper Brinkley. From what we have seen from Anthony Hitchens and now Andrew Gachkar, there might not be a reason to keep Brinkley on the roster despite his guaranteed money. Brinkley has played well these last three games at linebacker, but there might be a push from the staff to keep Keith Smith on the roster because of how he helps on special teams.
10)I am looking forward to studying this tape and seeing how La'el Collins played against the Texans. I thought it was good for Collins to play this entire game and work to finish on a high note. There were a couple of times from the broadcast booth where he appeared to have good fits on his run blocks and when the ball came behind him that there was a crease there.
11) That staff meeting trying to figure out which defensive linemen to keep or release is going to be gut-wrenching. There are going to be some passionate pleas from not only the coaches but the scouts as well. This will not be fun.
12)It would not surprise me one bit to see this front office get very aggressive when it comes to working this waiver wire and also making possible trades. One of the strengths of this scouting department is to evaluate pro players from other teams. If someone tries to sneak a player through, I have faith that these scouts will be on it.