HOUSTON -- Although Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak declined to name Case Keenum his starting quarterback for the rest of the season, it's likely that's where Keenum will remain barring a dramatic event.
To keep that position permanently, Keenum will need to show that he can grow from the early sparks of brightness he's shown so far.
After Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, I examined how Keenum fared against extra pressure. He didn't do well. The Cardinals increased their pressure tremendously in the second half, after figuring out that could rattle the young quarterback.
"If anything, I can expect more pressures now in the future," Keenum said on Wednesday. "People have had success against that against us. So I can expect more and different types of pressures from teams coming up."
That he recognizes this is positive. But it won't be easy to turn recognition into improvement. The mental aspect of playing quarterback takes time.
Keenum went on in his news conference to talk about the chess-like qualities of football, in which you always have to think about what the other team is thinking, what they know and what they think you're going to do.
Pressure of a different sort will be on Keenum, too, as he tries to figure this out. I don't believe he is in much danger of losing his starting job this year, but what he does now could indicate what happens in his future.
"Everybody’s on a short rope in this league," Keenum said. "Everybody’s under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform. Somebody told me the other day though that if you start focusing on the fruit instead of the root of the tree, then the tree dies. So focusing on the foundation of what got me here. That’ll help me thrive."