HOUSTON -- Matt Leinart’s return to the NFL lasted less than a half.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak says his backup quarterback is out for the season after fracturing his left collarbone in the second quarter of Houston’s 20-13 win in Jacksonville on Sunday.
Leinart, making his first start in two years in place of injured Matt Schaub, was hit hard by defensive end Jeremy Mincey late in the second quarter. He went to the sideline, headed to the locker room for tests and did not return.
Leinart completed 10 of 13 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, a 20-yard pass to Dreessen under heavy pressure. He got hurt on the next possession.
Kubiak says Leinart will have surgery within the next week.
"I visited with him today at length, very disappointed, obviously, with his opportunity he had and what happened," Kubiak said.
Despite a rash of injuries, Houston (8-3) has won a franchise-record five straight games. Rookie T.J. Yates, a fifth-round draft pick out of North Carolina, will start Sunday’s game against Atlanta (7-4). Kellen Clemens, signed last week, will back him up.
Kubiak said they will add a third quarterback soon and the list of candidates could include Brett Favre.
"I don’t think you rule out anybody. I know there’s, like I said, a lot of names being mentioned," Kubiak said. "We’ve got to continue to work through the process. I’m not going to rule out anybody, nor confirm anybody. Like I said, I’m the guy that’s got to stay focused on T.J. (Yates) right now and the other stuff will get worked out."
Yates completed 8 of 15 passes for 70 yards in relief of Leinart, doing just enough to help the Texans win. Houston led 20-10 at halftime, but managed just 47 yards and two first downs in the second half.
Losing Leinart could be a serious setback for a team that is closing in on its first AFC South title. Sure, the Texans have one of the league’s best running games. But as Jacksonville showed, Arian Foster and Ben Tate will have a tough time carrying the load against eight- and nine-man fronts.
Foster ran for 65 yards and a score, with 43 of them coming on one carry, and Tate added 26 yards on the ground. Along with Leinart’s perfect touchdown pass to Joel Dreessen and a defensive effort that included seven sacks—Connor Barwin had four of them—it was enough for Houston to win its fifth consecutive game.
"I’m very proud of this team," Kubiak said. "It’s hard to win in this league, and when you face some of the adversity we’ve faced and will be facing again, and to continue to find a way to win, that’s a sign of a very solid football team."
Notes: Texans WR Andre Johnson, back in the starting lineup after missing six games because of a hamstring injury, caught two passes for 22 yards. ... Neil Rackers’ 53-yard FG tied the franchise record. ... Jaguars C Brad Meester played in his 172nd career game, breaking the previous franchise record held by Jimmy Smith. ... Jones-Drew has 1,040 yards rushing, his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.