Yates and Keenum: Competing yet again

Yates and Keenum: Competing yet again
October 17, 2013, 9:00 am
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T.J. Yates and Case Keenum spent the entire offseason battling for the backup spot behind Matt Schaub. Yates won that competition.

But as the Texans (2-4) prepare to face the Chiefs (6-0) in Kansas City on Sunday, and with Matt Schaub’s status in some doubt, the two are competing again.

This time to start.

“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. But it seems like the Texans might not have a decision by then. Head coach Gary Kubiak said Schaub is an end-of-the-week decision and the team doesn’t have to make a decision as to who will start until Sunday.

Schaub’s leg is still swollen and sore and he wasn’t able to practice on Wednesday. If he can’t go, Yates or Keenum will start.

“I think both can lead us to victory,” left tackle Duane Brown said. “Both bring something a little different to the table. We’re going to do our best to protect whoever’s back there and we have all the confidence in the world in both of those guys. We’ll see.”

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.

That’s Yates’ biggest advantage: he has more NFL experience. That might go a long way in deciding who will line up behind center in Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest buildings in the entire league.

“Yeah, definitely I have a little bit of edge there, being in tight games, being in loud games,” he said. “KC is going to be one of the loudest we play all year. So that’s going to be something that everybody’s going to have to take into account. I’ve been in those situations before so I think that will help.”

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.

"I haven’t just worked this week. This isn’t the only week that I’ve worked. I’ve worked my whole life. I’m going to go out and get as much prepared as I can this week and go out and do the best I can on Sunday.”

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