Keenum giving Yates a real battle for backup QB job
The backup quarterback battle isn’t going anywhere.
While T.J. Yates has held the position behind Matt Schaub for the last two seasons in Houston and even won the franchise’s first playoff game, his job isn’t safe. Case Keenum is gunning for it.
On Friday night, in the Texans’ first preseason game in Minnesota, Yates played first going 13-for-21 for 151 yards and a 34-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins.
Case Keenum, who came in the game after Yates, was impressive also. He went 13-for-18 for 125 yards and a touchdown of his own.
“They’re two good football players, so it’s a nice problem for us,” head coach Gary Kubiak said in his day-after press conference on Saturday. “I think Case has come a long way. That has nothing to do with T.J. not doing something. I think T.J.’s having a dang good camp. He’s a better player than he was the last couple years but it’s just a very competitive situation for us right now.
“And it’s going to make our team better. It’s making both those guys better; it’ll help them in their career but it’s definitely making our team better. And there’s a lot of confidence right now with our team when they see another guy come in the huddle and we can still move the football, it’s a big plus.”
After Schaub played just one series, Yates took over and played 32 snaps. Then, Keenum came in after the half and played 33 snaps. Kubiak said the staff will talk about the possibility of Keenum playing before Yates in the second preseason game against the Dolphins next Saturday. Either way, Kubiak said he’s going to continue to try to get both players near equal reps in similar situations,
“They’ll continue to both play a great deal,” Kubiak said. “It’s a very good battle going on. They both did a very good job last night.”
With Schaub healthy last season, Yates threw just 10 passes but was coming off a season in which he won a playoff game.
In 2011, after Schaub's season ended with a foot injury, Yates stepped in. He started the final five games of the regular season, going 2-3. Despite losing the final three games going into the playoffs, Yates helped the Texans beat the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs.
While Yates has more experience, Keenum has become the fan favorite to win the backup role. The University of Houston product has been very good through OTAs and training camp and has a shot to take the backup job.
According to Kubiak and some players, Keenum looks different this season.
“It’s confidence. It’s knowledge of what we’re doing,” Kubiak said. “He’s just got a little swagger to him when he plays and that’s the way he played in college. He’s confident, doesn’t get caught with the ball. As a coach, you call a bad play and he makes it a good one. That’s what he can do.
"I’ve never seen a guy smile so much when he plays football but he’s having a good time and he has a lot of confidence in what’s going on. So you can tell how far he’s come in camp and obviously last night, he showed you it’s continuing.”