HOUSTON (AP) -- Matt Schaub will start at quarterback on Sunday for Houston against Denver and interim coach Wade Phillips expects him to receive a better reception than he did the last time he played at Reliant Stadium.
Schaub will start for an injured Case Keenum and try to help the Texans end a 12-game skid. Schaub's last action in Houston came when he took over late in a game against Oakland on Nov. 17 as Keenum was struggling. The home crowd booed him so loudly when he entered the game that the offense was forced to use a silent count.
''I'm not worried about that because I know a majority of our fans are with us no matter what and they've stuck through no matter what,'' Phillips said. ''We appreciate them. This is our last home game, so we need a lot of support and I think we'll get it.''
Schaub, who was benched after six games, will start for the first time since Oct. 13. Keenum has an injury to a ligament in his right thumb and was unable to grip the football on Tuesday. Phillips said he will wear a splint this week and he isn't sure of his status past Sunday. Keenum fell on his thumb and injured it on the last of his four sacks in this weekend's loss to the Colts.
Schaub last played in the second half at Jacksonville on Dec. 5 and moved the ball well before throwing an interception on what could have been the go-ahead drive in a 27-20 loss.
''He's a consummate professional,'' Phillips said. ''We know Matt. We know he'll work hard at what he does and he's going to give us his best effort. And we're going to support him.''
Also on Wednesday, Phillips announced that running back Ben Tate will be placed on the injured reserve after another injury to his ribs. Tate has been playing with four broken ribs since October, but hasn't missed a game.
Phillips marveled at the toughness Tate has shown in playing through the injury.
''A cracked rib is a problem, but it's not something that that it could be too serious as far as his overall health,'' Phillips said. ''But once you get it multiple times, I think you've got to shut him down.''
Already without Arian Foster, the team signed Jonathan Grimes to take Tate's roster spot and add depth at running back. Undrafted rookie Dennis Johnson, who was signed in late October, will start on Sunday. Johnson has appeared in seven games this season with 37 carries for 154 yards.
There was a bit of good news for the Texans on Wednesday as Phillips said the injuries to defensive end Antonio Smith (knee) and cornerback Johnathan Joseph (groin) weren't serious and they are expected to return to practice Thursday.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org