HOUSTON – Rookie QB Tom Savage turned some heads on Saturday night when he led the Texans on a game-winning drive against the Denver Broncos.
One of those impressed was head coach Bill O'Brien who says the competition for the back-up quarterback job is getting close.
"I would say it's pretty close. I think it's pretty close," O'Brien said. "We're discussing that right now. Both guys had good moments last night but I think that Tom Savage definitely closed the gap and it's pretty close."
Savage found Ryan Griffin on a 31 yard touchdown strike to cut the Broncos lead to 17-16. On the ensuing two point conversion, Savage hooked up with fellow rookie Travis Labhart to give the Texans the 18-17 lead.
That final drive stood out not just because the Texans scored, but because of how Savage has grasped the offense.
"It doesn't surprise me because in the pre-draft process, when we met with him, we talked to him a lot," O'Brien said on Sunday. "We knew that there was a good chance there that he was going to be able to come in here and learn because he was a bright guy. But again now, let's be real clear here now, he's got a long way to go. We're not headed for Hawaii and the Pro Bowl now. We're talking about battling for the number two job."
"I would say that Keenum is still two, but Tom, it's a really tight race between two really good guys, competitive guys."
For the game, Savage was 5-6 for 68 yards and the game-winning touchdown. For the preseason, the rookie from Pittsburgh is 11-14 for 90 yards.
Stats however can only tell O'Brien so much about his new quarterback's progress. Performing under pressure at the end of the game goes a long way.
"I think what happened was we broke the huddle and as a young quarterback when the referee leans into the huddle and he winds the clock you've got to get going so he probably could have called the play before the referee wound the clock," O'Brien said. "So he ended up calling the play and then having to break the huddle and it involved some motion and shifting and things like that. So you're right, it wasn't confusion as much as it was he had to get going and I thought that he kept his poise there really well."
Both Keenum and Savage are expected to get a lot of playing time in the 4th preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.