Backup Quarterback Race for Houston Texans Hotter than Expected

By Cooper Welch
Case Keenum
Troy Taormina-USA Today Sports

The 2013 NFL regular season is just 24 days away, and the Houston Texans have yet to decide who their second-string quarterback will be. But this isn’t a bad thing, as the competition only exists because both quarterbacks are performing so well.

T.J. Yates is now entering his third season in the NFL, and he’s been pretty impressive for a backup quarterback in limited regular season doses. In his rookie season, Matt Schaub was injured on a QB sneak into the endzone in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 13, 2011, and Matt Leinart started the next game for the Texans against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Leinart was injured in this game, and so Yates had to come into the game and finish it. In that game, Yates completed 53 percent of his passes and threw for 70 yards. The Texans won, and Yates finished out the season, throwing for 949 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Yates impressed in his first career start in the NFL playoffs. He went 11-for-20 with 159 yards and a touchdown pass, leading the Texans to their first playoff win in franchise history. His next game wasn’t as impressive (17-35, 184 yards, three interceptions) as the Texans lost to the Baltimore Ravens.

Though they lost, Yates finished with a 3-4 record as a starter (including playoffs) with an average QB rating of 79.725 (Mark Sanchez finished 2011 with rating of 78.2). This past season, Yates only saw limited action, completing four of his 10 passes for 38 yards and one interception.

Case Keenum was undrafted last year out of the University of Houston, but was picked up by the Texans and put on their practice squad. He stayed there the entire season, but is now the third-string QB for the 2013 Texans, and he’s trying to move up even more.

Keenum is a hometown favorite as he played five years of college ball for the Houston Cougars. He threw for over 5,000 yards three times as he led the Cougars to four seven-plus win seasons (including a 13-1 2011), and was in the running for the Heisman twice. There are no NFL stats on Keenum from 2012, but in his one preseason game this year, he completed 13 out of 18 passes and threw one touchdown. 

Many fans are now calling for Keenum to be the no. 2 guy over Yates, as Keenum was slightly more impressive than Yates in the one preseason game that they’ve both played in. Yates went 13-for-21 with one touchdown as well, but his touchdown pass was more of a prayer that DeAndre Hopkins just tore out of the sky Andre Johnson-style.

Kubiak seems to be listening, as it’s been reported that Keenum will be the first off the bench in the second preseason game for the Texans against the Miami Dolphins. 

Whoever the winner is in this quarterback race, the outcome will hopefully be moot. The only place a team ever wants to see its backup quarterback during the regular or postseason is on the sideline. Even so, it will definitely be a fun race to watch.

Cooper Welch is a Houston Texans writer for Follow him on Twitter @cooperwelch1991, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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