HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans released 20 players on Friday, including Keenan McCardell and Chad Stanley, the only punter in franchise history.
The Texans must release two more players to get to the league-mandated 53-player limit by 5 p.m. Saturday.
McCardell was signed just before training camp to bolster Houston's receiving group, but the emergence of third-round pick Jacoby Jones pushed the 37-year-old out of a job. McCardell, who was released by San Diego after last season, was injured through a big chunk of camp and had just one reception in the preseason.
Jones, a former track standout from Division II Lane College, caught on so quickly that coach Gary Kubiak kept just five receivers.
"We drafted him (Jones) in the third round and had I been standing here today with him having a slow process of becoming a player in this league and helping this team, then there's no doubt we'd be keeping six," Kubiak said. "But his growth in such a short period of time and what he's been able to do has helped us go with five wide receivers and that's the bottom line."
"He'd be the first to tell you he didn't kick as well last year especially when we got out of the nice environment of Reliant," Kubiak said. "We thought it was important that we push him this year and that's why Turk was brought in."
The Texans also released second-year running back Wali Lundy, a starter a year ago. Houston signed Ahman Green in the off-season and has 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne and Samkon Gado.
"Samkon has had an excellent off-season," Kubiak said. "Wali improved, but I think the whole group improved and it was a tough call between him and Samkon and we felt like Samkon has won that position. It was very difficult to let Wali go."
Others cut on Friday were center Drew Hodgdon, guard Mike Brisiel, receivers Bethel Johnson and David Anderson, quarterback Jared Zabransky, running back Darius Walker, fullback Jon Abbate, tackle Brandon Frye, defensive backs John Walker, Ty Poole, Dexter McCleon and Brandon Mitchell, defensive linemen Alfred Malone, DelJuan Robinson, Tim Bulman and Victor DeGrate and linebacker Trent Bray.
Zabransky, the former Boise State quarterback who led his team to a 43-42 overtime win against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, came to Houston as a free agent. His only significant playing time of the preseason came Thursday night when he was 12-of-22 for 117 yards with an interception in three quarters in Houston's 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press