Keenum looks for 1st career win against Patriots

Keenum looks for 1st career win against Patriots
November 28, 2013, 1:48 pm
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Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum (7) passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(APWF)

HOUSTON (AP) Case Keenum has had some good moments and plenty of struggles in his five games as Houston's quarterback.

The one thing he hasn't had is any wins.

Now the undrafted free agent will have to compete with Tom Brady and New England if he hopes to keep the Texans from losing their 10th straight game on Sunday.

Keenum had the worst game in his short career in Sunday's loss to the Jaguars. This week he's had a singular focus to try and get back on track.

''I've focused this week on trust,'' he said. ''That's kind of been my one word that can encompass a lot of things in that arena. Trusting my preparation, trusting my reads, trusting what I'm seeing, trusting my pocket and trusting a lot things.''

Keenum admitted after Sunday's game that he was a little hesitant and that he would work to make sure that didn't happen again.

''I want to be perfect, but I know I'm not,'' he said. ''I know things are going to come up and I'm going to make mistakes. They're going to make plays and it's about continuing to trust through those mistakes and through those things and not become hesitant after that.''

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison saw that hesitancy in Keenum against Jacksonville and spent the week trying to figure out how to get him back to playing the way he was in his first three games.

''He certainly wasn't pulling the trigger as soon as he needed to last week and ... we'll get him to do that,'' Dennison said. ''That's part of offensive executive and everybody's got to be the same way. I think we're working on it and making sure he has a great week of preparation to get that done.''

Andre Johnson has been impressed with Keenum's work so far, especially since he was thrown into action with the season well underway. Keenum took over for an injured Matt Schaub on Oct. 20 and retained the job after Schaub got healthy.

It was his first live-game action since he wrapped up a record-setting career at the University of Houston in 2011. He led the Cougars to a 12-0 start that season before a loss in the Conference USA championship game. He left Houston as the NCAA's all-time leader in career total yards (20,114), yards passing (19,217), passing touchdowns (155) and total touchdowns (178).

Despite a stellar college career, he went undrafted before being picked up by the Texans. He spent all of last season on the practice squad before making the team this year.

''It's going to be tough at times,'' Johnson said. ''For him, he's just starting. So people are going to throw a lot of things at him and they try to figure out what he does well and try to stop him from doing those things. For him, it's a little bit tougher because he has so much coming at him at one time in such a short period of time. But that's part of it. He'll learn from it.''

Keenum has taken care of the ball much better than the veteran Schaub, who had been Houston's starter since 2007. Schaub had eight touchdowns and nine interceptions in his six starts. Keenum has eight touchdowns with just two interceptions in his five starts.

Coach Gary Kubiak has been impressed with how Keenum has adjusted to being under center after spending most of his college career in the shotgun formation. He's a much more mobile quarterback than Schaub is, so the Texans are searching for the best ways to help him be successful. They've also put him in a pistol formation on some plays because they know he's a bit more comfortable when he isn't under center.

''We're continuing to find out what he does best and take a hard look at everything we changed offensively a little bit to try to fit some of his strengths that we think,'' Kubiak said. ''So it has come back to doing a little bit of both and we're trying to sort through that and see what we think he does best.''

Though Keenum said that he was very surprised that he hasn't been able to pick up his first NFL win yet, Johnson said that Keenum hasn't let the tough start to his career get him down.

''After every game, he's always saying: `Man, I've got to do better, play better. I'll play better for you guys,''' Johnson said. ''He's hard on himself. You don't really find many young guys that come out and tell you stuff like that. It just shows what kind of guy he is and how bad he wants to win, and how bad he wants to help this team.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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