This was supposed to be the week that Case Keenum was going to be exposed as little more than a third stringer. After being given the first nod from the bench after Matt Schaub left the game near the end of the first quarter for the Houston Texans in their second game of the preseason, Keenum wasn’t hearing any of that.
With the home crowd already eating out of his hand, Keenum looked poised, showed terrific pocket presence and had outstanding mechanics in a performance against the second unit that has many thinking that this truly could be a tossup now. Say what you want about if this is a meaningful preseason battle or not, but Keenum matched T.J. Yates blow for blow in the right to be the No. 2 on this squad the first week of September.
With 150 yards passing and a touchdown on a terrific pass to wide receiver Lestar Jean from 38 yards out, the stage was set for Yates to come in and prove “anything you can do, I can do better.” He answered with incredible efficiency and a better run game en route to 84 yards and a touchdown of his own. The best way to describe tonight is a push, as both guys look on the same level. Anyone who thinks either of them should be in the discussion for the starting spot need to just calm down, but as far as a legit NFL backup, both Yates and Keenum look the part.
This, of course, further cements my prediction that the team will carry three quarterbacks and that may have been decided already even before this game started. I still believe that the team plans to let Yates walk when his contract is up and Keenum will be the new backup, but that’s getting quite ahead of myself.
You have the usual criticism of Schaub after he threw an interception on the first possession of the game, but he recovered later to lead an eight play, 66 yard drive that simply overpowered the Miami Dolphins‘ starting defense. It’s the first extended minutes of the preseason for Schaub and I’m not as concerned about him as the majority of Texans fans, but time will tell.
The trio of Houston quarterbacks combined for 308 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. All three of them also led a scoring drive. I’d take that line from under center every single day.
The truth is, you know that this is a good football team when the backup quarterback situation is generating this much debate and discussion. Because if either of them are taking meaningful snaps in 2013, it’s a pretty safe bet that this season isn’t going as well as expectations are being placed on them.
Other positive marks for the night go out to running back Deji Karim, tight end Garrett Graham and the aforementioned Lestar Jean.
Once again, the battle for the third running back spot is up in the air. Once thought to be locked down by Dennis Johnson, his pair of fumbles along with Karim’s 55 yards on just nine carries means he might not be long for the Houston roster in 2013. Graham continues to prove that he should be ready to take over for Owen Daniels full-time in 2014 and after a shaky game last week, Jean didn’t do much to hurt himself.
On defense, D.J. Swearinger responded to a questionable debut with a good game in coverage and in tackling. Terrell McClain looks like he has solidified a spot as the backup to Earl Mitchell with two strong games in a row and Antonio Smith looked ready to start the season tomorrow. Brian Cushing made a good open field tackle that stopped a drive and showed what this defense was so sorely lacking in 2012.
All in all, there were no big injuries other than a precautionary removal of DeAndre Hopkins who got a concussion after landing on his head after a tough catch. In preseason, not adding any significant injuries is more of a victory than what the final scoreboard says.
Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” his Facebook page, add him to your network on Google and subscribe to his Texans Luv Ya Steel Blue podcast on iTunes.