HOUSTON – Texans coach Gary Kubiak announced Monday morning that Case Keenum will start at quarterback Sunday night versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Kubiak said his decision comes even though struggling Matt Schaub has been cleared to play and is based on performance. Schaub will back up Keenum for Sunday’s game.
“I’ve got to make decisions I think are best for the football team right now,” Kubiak said. “The decision I made was based on what I saw take place last week with Case and him taking advantage of an opportunity. I want to see him move forward.”
Keenum started his first NFL game in place of the injured Shaub on Oct. 20 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans lost 17-16 as Keenum threw for 271 yards and a touchdown, and didn’t make any major mistakes until his fumble near the end of the game.
Teammates pointed to the energy he brought to the field despite the loss.
“I thought we went out and played better football and that’s why we had a chance to win in Kansas City,” Kubiak said. “I thought (Keenum) did some really good things. He’s got to improve. This football team’s got to improve around him.”
Keenum said he needs to “get better in a lot of things,” including making reads and picking up the types of blitzes he saw in the fourth quarter against Kansas City.
“I imagine we’ll see it again,” Keenum said of the pressure. “You put it on film and people see it. So correcting that is going to be big time.”
Keenum will get his second start in a game that is considered by many as the Texans’ last chance to turn their disappointing season around.
The team entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, but now finds itself trying to snap a five-game losing streak after starting off the season 2-0.
Schaub, a seven-year veteran who was handpicked by Kubiak to replace David Carr in 2007, got off to a rough start before leaving a loss to the St. Louis Rams with an ankle injury.
“It’s obviously very disappointing with all we’ve been through here and all we’ve done, but I’m part of the reason we’re in this situation as a football team,” Schaub said. “As a player and a competitor, I don’t like it and I want to be out there. Obviously, I haven’t played up to my standards this year. I think that’s where it mostly stems from.”
During the bye week, the Texans were also forced to regroup after losing starting inside linebacker Brian Cushing for the second straight season to a knee injury. Kubiak also released three rookies on Oct. 21 for violating team rules.
Running back Arian Foster (hamstring) only worked with team trainers Monday and backup Ben Tate (ribs) missed practice. Kubiak said he is “very concerned” and will work to get running backs Deji Karim, Dennis Johnson and Ray Graham prepared to play.
The Texans host a Colts team (5-2) that is coming off its biggest victory of the season over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (7-1).
Keenum will now get the chance to show what he can do in front of the hometown fans.
“I imagine I’ll have a few more goose bumps than I did last week,” said Keenum, who starred at the University of Houston. “To play in Houston, to play at Reliant . I know Sunday night’s going to be very special.
Notes: Linebackers Tavares Gooden and Jeff Tarpinian practiced with the team for the first time Monday since signing . Right guard Wade Smith was out with a knee injury.