- Tania Ganguli, ESPN Staff Writer
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HOUSTON -- Thursday will offer the final word for the Houston Texans' backup quarterbacks.
Case Keenum, the former record-setting University of Houston quarterback, is expected to start for the Texans in a preseason game in which the starters will rest. T.J. Yates will play next. They could even alternate quarters.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak has given both quarterbacks a very fair chance to make their cases. Yates' numbers were better Sunday against New Orleans in the Texans' third preseason game: He threw nine passes and completed seven, and one of the incomplete passes was dropped. Yates also threw the Texans' only passing touchdown.
"I think T.J. has answered a challenge in a lot of ways," Kubiak said. "He has been pushed and it has made him better as a player. I think we maybe go back a couple weeks in camp and T.J. struggled a couple days and he and I had a big sit-down talk about just his approach and what we’re doing. And since then he has been really, really good."
Yates' play outshined Keenum's on Sunday afternoon.
"We put ourselves in a chance to win the ballgame there, and I missed a few throws," said Keenum, who went 10-of-14 for 79 yards. "Missed one really important throw there on fourth down. You know I’m disappointed. I’m competitive and I want to win. Preseason or not, I want to go win. We had a chance to go tie it up and go into overtime. You know, you learn from it, go watch film, and we had a guy, Lemon ran a great route and I’ll hit it next time."
Keenum will attempt two things Thursday in Dallas. First, he will try to overtake Yates as the Texans' backup quarterback. His chance of that is looking slimmer and slimmer.
But Keenum will also try to force Kubiak to keep three quarterbacks instead of just two. Last season the Texans initially kept three quarterbacks on their roster. After cut-down day, Houston remained with starter Matt Schaub, Yates and veteran journeyman John Beck. Beck didn't last the full season, and Keenum remained on the practice squad.
Last week Kubiak said you find a way to keep good players. What they'll have to decide is whether Keenum is more valuable than keeping a deeper group at another position. After all, if things go as they're supposed to during the season, the Texans shouldn't need too many quarterbacks.