Case Keenum will be the Texans' starting quarterback in Kansas City on Sunday, head coach Gary Kubiak said. Kubiak said the decision was made on Wednesday night and he told the team on Thursday morning. Matt Schaub (leg) has been ruled out and T.J. Yates will be the backup quarterback.
T.J. Yates and Case Keenum spent the entire offseason battling for the backup spot behind Matt Schaub. Yates had originally won that competition. But as the Texans (2-4) prepare to face the Chiefs (6-0) in Kansas City on Sunday, and with Schaub out, the two had been competing again, with Keenum getting the nod.
“This is nothing new to me and Case,” Yates said on Wednesday after practice. “We did this all preseason long. It’s kind of back to normal for us. But it was fun. We’re splitting first-team reps and we’re also splitting the scout team, so we’re out there getting a ton of reps, running around, being able to kind of go out there and just play football. It was a fun practice.”
Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said it isn’t uncommon for the quarterbacks to split reps on Wednesday but the team likes to taper the reps to the starter on Friday. Schaub’s leg is still swollen and sore and he wasn’t able to practice on Wednesday. What’s the difference between the two? “I like them both,” Andre Johnson said. “Case just has sort of like an aura about him. When he’s out there, he’s real excited, having fun. T.J., he just goes out there and plays. He takes more of a business approach to it.”
Yates, 26, has been with the Texans since 2011, when – as a rookie – he took over when Schaub went down with a season-ending injury. It was actually Yates who led the franchise to its first-ever playoff victory.
Yates came into Sunday’s game against the Rams after Schaub was knocked out. He didn’t play well. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 98 yards and two interceptions; one was returned for a touchdown.
“Maybe. Maybe not,” Yates said when asked if he would be in a competition had he played better against the Rams. “Kubs has kept me and Case (Keenum) in a pretty close competition kind of no matter what either one of us do, even since training camp. Throughout these weeks that we’ve been the backups, he’s always been keeping us in a very good competition. I think it’s good. Keep us both on our toes and always out there competing, just making the best out of it and making each other better.”
While Yates has experience, Keenum seemingly has athleticism on his side. The former University of Houston standout is known for his ability to run the ball as well as throw it. He put up gaudy numbers in college but spent last season on the Texans' practice squad.
Keenum made the 53-man roster this season and competed with Yates for the backup role during training camp. Schaub said he’s been impressed with the way Keenum has picked up the Texans’ offense, which is very different from the one Keenum ran in college.
“It’s really cool,” Keenum said about potentially starting and playing in his first NFL game. “It’s not something I’ve thought about too much, but as far as actually right now in this moment, it’s something that I’ve thought about for a long time, playing quarterback in the NFL and being able to start for a team. In that sense, it’s a dream I’ve had for a really long time.
- Dave Zangaro, CSN Houston
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