T.J. Yates is the incumbent second stringer for the Houston Texans but Case Keenum — who’s familiar to Houstonians from his record-setting days at the University of Houston — is making this a true training camp competition after spending last season on the practice squad.
“It was fun playing football tonight. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone out and operated and moved the football like I did tonight,” he said.
Keenum was the highlight in the second half for the Texans. The second-year quarterback came off the bench behind Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates and led the offense on two touchdown drives that won the game.
The second half began with the Vikings leading 13-10 and the third-string Keenum taking over. Keenum’s first drive ended in a punt after three-and-out. His second drive of the third quarter lasted 6:33 and consisted of 15 plays spanning 90 yards. The drive ended in 21-yard field goal by Randy Bullock, which tied the score 13-13 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Keenum was 3-for-3 on third downs. He connected with receiver Lestar Jean on a short two-yard touchdown pass to the left side of the endzone, giving the Texans the lead 20-13 with 10:32 remaining in the game.
“It was a bootleg with Lestar coming underneath,” Keenum said. “It wasn’t a very good ball, but he made a good catch and got us in the end zone to put us out front.“Yeah, it was fun,” Keenum said about the pass to Jean. “That was my first touchdown pass in the NFL. I know it’s preseason, but it was a long time coming for me.”
Keenum finished with 13-of-18 for 125 yards, including the touchdown to Jean. Keenum would have had two touchdowns to his credit had it not been for two drop passes by Jeff Maehl in the end zone. The Texans had to settle for a field goal.
Keenum, who was undrafted last season is competing with Yates for the backup job. Keenum played confident and composed. In short, he looked like a real threat to Yates.
“I think it’s good,” Keenum said of the quarterback battle between him and Yates. “I think we’re pushing each other and making each other better. That’s what football’s about. What’s great is that T.J. is a great guy and I’ve got a lot of respect for him (not only) as a player, but as a person as well. We bounce things off each other and learn from each other on and off the field. It’s a good chemistry we’ve got going lately.”
For now, both Yates and Keenum are focused on making themselves better and building on Friday’s success.
Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak believes that Keenum needs to be put in similar situations before making a an accurate assessment.
“We’re going to talk about that this week,” Kubiak said of the backup quarterback decision. “What I’m trying to do is get him and T.J. in the exact same situations as players with pretty much equal reps, so that’s something that may be a topic this week. They will continue to both play a great deal. It’s a very good battle going on and they both did a good job last night.”
From what I witnessed last Friday night, Coach Kubiak has to like what he saw in Keenum.