Schaub pledges 16-game season

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
HOUSTON -- He's labeled by some as fragile, but I don't know that it's really fair.

Matt Schaub has missed games, but it's not like he was slow to return from injuries or that the injuries that held him out were minor.

Last year, for example, he returned more quickly from a knee injury than was forecast. Still, he's missed five games in each of his two years at the helm of the Texans. The team that could live or die with the continuity and productivity of its offense needs him in the huddle for a full season.

"Last year, I don't know what else I could have done, I tore a ligament in my knee," he said. "Unfortunately I got hit from behind late [in Minnesota] and I got back two or three weeks sooner than they anticipated. You could say it was pretty unfortunate. Same thing the year before with my shoulder."

"But I am going to be out there 16 weeks this year. I feel good. Offseason work, weight room, conditioning, I feel like it's going to happen this year, I'm going to make sure it does."

It's a hard promise to make, but Texans fans have to like the spirit of it.

Houston is obviously doing what it feels it needs to in order to be prepared if Schaub goes down again. They liked Dan Orlovsky a lot when they added him as the backup to replace the traded Sage Rosenfels and now will give Rex Grossman a chance to make the case they should keep three quarterbacks.

Coach Gary Kubiak said the Texans have let Schaub get hit too often. Still, he sees the potential for Schaub to mature into a different kind of player.

"I think you learn to stay on the field," Kubiak said. "I've seen players in this league play their first year or two, keep getting nicked, this or that, kind of find a way to get to that point where you learn to stay out there and protect yourself a little bit and you can do that for a period of time. So I am hoping that it's that time for Matt. We can help him, but he's also got to be able to get that ball going sometimes."

That's some interesting stuff there -- the idea a guy can get to a comfortable place where he's actually learned how to stay on the field. If you think about it, a lot of the league's sturdier, and better, quarterbacks do have that quality.

If Schaub can join their ranks and get in a rhythm that lasts, this could be a big year for the Texans.

Thursday's blog column post will delve into some of the issues for Houston's offense as it prepares for 2009. Please look for it.