December 12th, 2018 at 5:52pm CST by Dallas Robinson
The Texans have designated cornerback Kayvon Webster to return from injured reserve, the club announced today.
Webster was placed on IR in early October after suffering his a strained quad. Because he’s already missed eight weeks of action, Webster is eligible to return to the active roster at any time. Now that Webster has returned to practice, Houston has opened a three-week window during which it must either place him on its 53-man roster, or leave him on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
After inking a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Texans in August, Webster missed the first four games of the year while recovering from an Achilles tear he suffered while with the Rams in 2017. Webster managed to play in only a single contest before going down with injury once again.
Despite his injury history, there’s reason to think Webster can contribute to the Texans’ defense down the stretch. Although Pro Football Focus ranked Webster in the bottom half of its cornerback grades last year, Webster finished 31st among 81 CBs in Football Outsiders’ success rate, meaning he was effective at stopping wide receivers short of the sticks. FO also charted Webster with allowing 6.8 yard per pass, 38th among cornerbacks.
Houston’s defense is one of the best in the league, but the club is better against the run (second in DVOA) than the pass (16th). As such, Webster could potentially see snaps alongside Aaron Colvin, Johnathan Joseph, and Kareem Jackson if he’s able to return.
Here’s the latest from the NFL’s workout circuit, all links going to NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account (unless otherwise noted). The first day teams can sign players to reserve/futures contracts is New Year’s Eve.
D’Onta Foreman is back. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the Texans have activated the running back from the physically unable to perform list. To make room on the roster, the team has cut safety Natrell Jamerson, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
The 22-year-old running back tore his Achilles towards the end of last season, and he’s spent this entire campaign on the PUP. While the Texans were probably hoping that the 2017 third-rounder would take on a bigger role during his sophomore campaign, they’ve been fine rolling with the duo of Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue.
Foreman is the biggest bruiser of the bunch, and the Texans will surely want to see what they’ve got in the former Texas Longhorns standout. The running back looked solid during his rookie campaign, compiling 327 rushing yards on 78 carries (4.2-yard average). He added another six receptions for 83 yards, and he even returned a single kickoff. The Texans will likely ease him back into game action, but there’s a chance he could supplant Miller come playoff time if the veteran is struggling.
Jamerson was a fifth-round pick by the Saints in this past year’s draft, but he was cut by New Orleans at the end of the preseason. He soon caught on with the Texans, and he went on to compile seven tackles and one pass defended in 10 games. With the rookie out of the picture, the Texans will move forward with Justin Reid, Michael Tyson, and Andre Hal as their reserve safeties.
Although Sammy Watkins has missed time for the Chiefs this season, they trotted out their top offensive threats in every game. The Patrick Mahomes–Travis Kelce–Tyreek Hill–Kareem Hunt quartet led Kansas City to a 9-2 record — with losses coming by a combined six points against teams with a combined 18-4 record — and a runaway DVOA lead, but the NFL’s reigning rushing champion won’t be joining his former teammates Sunday in Oakland after the Chiefs cut him. Hunt totaled 1,202 yards from scrimmage for the Chiefs this season; no other K.C. back has more than 300. But next-man-up Spencer Ware did amass 1,368 for the 2016 Chiefs.
This may open the door for the franchise that has secured the AFC’s No. 1 seed in five of this decade’s eight seasons. Only two AFC franchises have held home field in the 2010s — New England and Denver — and no other team has represented the conference in a Super Bowl in six years.
The Chiefs have not had home-field advantage since 1997 but entered the week having the inside track to make the playoffs go through western Missouri. Football Outsiders gives Kansas City a 74 percent chance to lock down the No. 1 seed.
They have two games remaining against the 2-9 Raiders and also will be home against the Chargers, who haven’t won this matchup since 2013, and Ravens. The Chiefs must travel to Seattle in Week 16, and their margin for error may be slim.
The Patriots’ AFC East rivals are again cooperating with New England’s hopes of earning a bye and possibly the 1 seed, and three of the Pats’ final five games are against the Bills, Jets and Dolphins. Football Outsiders, however, gives the Patriots merely a 13 percent chance of securing home-field advantage. But they own head-to-head tiebreakers over the Chiefs and Texans. Despite this being a less-than-dominant Patriots edition (ninth DVOA, seventh in scoring offense, 12th on defense), they have an interesting chance to obtain home field again.
New England is 19-3 in Foxborough playoff games under Bill Belichick and 3-4 away from home in January, making that position rather important.
Football Outsiders tabs Houston, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles as long shots, with none carrying better than a 6.9 percent chance (the Texans) to avoid January travel.
Houston, though, leads the contender pack with the No. 4 DVOA defense and plays just one winning team — the 6-5 Colts — the rest of the way. The Texans are riding the longest win streak in football and are the first team to win eight straight after starting 0-3. The Steelers and Chargers will encounter tougher opposition. Games against the Bolts, Patriots (both at home) and Saints still loom for the Steelers. Road trips to Kansas City and Denver are ahead for the Chargers, who also host the Ravens in Week 16.
Los Angeles is fourth in weighted DVOA and, especially with Joey Bosa back, possesses a far superior defense to the Chiefs. Will that end up mattering come Week 15 in what’s been a one-sided rivalry as of late?
So, which one of these teams will end up with the conference’s coveted postseason real estate? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.