Houston Texans Begin Mini Camp, Beck and Keenum Battle For Third QB Spot

By Dory LeBlanc

Matt Schaub is still recovering from a Lisfranc injury that ended his season prematurely last November, but says he will be ready to go when he hits the field for the Houston Texans.

TJ Yates, who took over after then-backup Matt Leinart (now with the Oakland Raiders) broke his collarbone in his only start in 2011, will sit out this week’s mini-camp according to head coach Gary Kubiak.

There isn’t a controversy in Houston as Schaub will continue to be the Texans’ starter, and after Yates quarterbacked the team to its first ever playoff appearance last season, the second-year QB out of North Carolina solidified himself as the backup. But there is a battle for number three between free agent signee John Beck and undrafted rookie Case Keenum.

The 30-year old Beck signed a one-year $700,000 contract in May after being cut by the Washington Redskins where he played the last two seasons. In four games (three starts) in 2011, Beck threw for 858 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, while posting a QB rating of 72.1. After drafting Robert Griffin III second overall and Kirk Cousins 102nd overall in April’s NFL Draft, the Redskins decided Beck’s time had come to an end in the nation’s capital.

Beck only played in nine games in his four-year career, but adds another veteran presence to the Texans’ roster and is familiar with the offensive system the Texans run. Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan served the same position in Houston from 2008-09 before joining his father, Mike, in 2010.

Keenum was a highly successful collegiate quarterback, breaking nearly every major QB record while at Houston, and presumably already a fan favorite. The Abilene native passed for 19,217 yards and 155 touchdowns as a Cougar, and is the only quarterback in college history to pass for over 5,000 yards in three seasons (2008-09, 2011).

Despite his achievements at the University of Houston, many draft analysts and scouts believed Keenum was an undersized system quarterback who would not replicate his college successes in the NFL. At just under 6’1” 208 Lbs., Keenum played in a shotgun spread offense which does not require a quarterback to possess elite arm strength as he isn’t asked to throw the ball downfield often. Instead, the Air Raid allows the quarterback to be able to make reads easier and the field is opened up. However, after talking to Keenum at the NFL Combine in February and watching him at a workout of local players in April, Kubiak decided to give Space City’s football hero a shot.

Kubiak has seemed impressed by Keenum since the start of OTA’s when he said the rookie hasn’t had a problem adjusting to life under center, and once again last week calling him “automatic” in the hurry-up offense.

The former Cougar will take reps in mini-camp behind Beck, and Keenum’s performance over the next three days could begin to seal his future in the city where he has already seen so many accomplishments.

On the other hand, Beck has come from two franchises (Miami Dolphins and Redskins) not particularly known for developing signal-callers and his familiarity with the zone blocking system may edge him out over Keenum, to many fans’ disapproval.

In all likelihood, Houstonians will have to remain patient until pre-season when both are showcased in game-time situations to find out who their number three will be.

First, a full recovery of Schaub has to be a priority on the wish list.


For more from Dory LeBlanc follow her on twitter @DoryLeBlanc1

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