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A chance at redemption

This week in Houston, few subjects have received more attention online and on the airwaves than who will line up behind center for the Texans on Sunday.


Pick up the paper, or tune into the sports segment on the local nightly news, and chances are you'll hear some mention of quarterbacks David Carr and Sage Rosenfels.

There's just one place where the QB question isn't a hot topic: within the Houston Texans.

Yes, Carr fumbled twice and threw an interception as Houston fell behind Tennessee last week 14-3. And Rosenfels came in and threw three touchdown passes the second half to almost bring the Texans back.

But immediately after the game, coach Gary Kubiak left no doubt as to who is the team's starting signal-caller.

"David's our quarterback," Kubiak said flatly.

Then he explained quite definitively.

"I'm going back to David because I know he's the best thing for our football team and his growth process and his leadership and the type of player he becomes is what's important to the Houston Texans and this franchise," Kubiak said. I'm going to do everything I can to make him the best possible football player he can be.

"It was an unfortunate situation yesterday, but I thought it was best that we make a change because we were turning the ball over. But we go right back to it Wednesday morning where we left off."

That's in part because Carr is still no slouch. Before the Tennessee game, he led the NFL in completion percentage at 70.4 and was fourth in QB rating at 97.9, including a strong second in fourth quarter rating at 127.8.

This week, he still is sixth in the league in quarterback rating at 94.3 and his 70.4 completion percentage is still No. 1. Carr's teammates understand all that.

"Everyone's bound to have a bad day and he has been playing really well this year," tight end Owen Daniels said. "It's easy to blame the quarterback. But we still have confidence in David."

Carr still has confidence in himself as well.

"It's tough, but the one thing that I kind of had to do with myself these last couple days is realize that that was just one game," he said. "It was a bad half of football and you kind of just have to move on from it, really. If I just sat around and worried about that for the rest of the year, we'd probably have a pretty bad year.

"But you have to realize that we were making pretty good progress. Just seven days before that we beat a pretty good team in Jacksonville, so it's not like I just forgot how to play football one week. It was just a bad day."

The players were as surprised as anyone when Carr was benched. And they naturally watched how he responded.



]("It's the first time it ever happened to him and I think it was a big shock to him," wide receiver Andre Johnson said. "But it's something you learn from. I didn't say anything to him. I didn't need to. Just looking at him, I knew he'd be okay."

So did guard Fred Weary.

"David's our man still," Weary said. "I think he'll bounce back. Really, whoever coach Kubiak names is the quarterback, we have to block for both of them.

"But I think this will be good for David. It will bring more of his competitiveness out in him. He'll do what he needs to do."

Still, quarterback controversies can split a team apart. Johnson doesn't think this situation will do that to the Texans.

"I don't think we have guys like that on this team," Johnson said. "Guys realize you're not going to play perfect every game. We know coach will make the best decision for this team and we'll go with it.

"I don't play perfect. No one does."

Kubiak agrees.

"These players are going to stay behind him because they see him battling," Kubiak said. "That's part of becoming a leader at quarterback and being the leader of your football team.

"You're going to have adversity and that adversity might come in the wake of you not playing well, but you're still in there. Or your team's not playing well, that could be adversity.

"His adversity, at this point right here in his career, is that he came out of a game for a half. If that's the worst thing that happens to David Carr through his career, he's going to be fine."

Even Rosenfels can't argue with the decision to start Carr.

"Coach Kubiak has been doing this for a long time, and he knows what's best for this football team," Rosenfels said. "He played for 10 or 12 years and coached for 10, 12 years in this league. He knows. He's got the Ph.D. in football, not the fans. No offense to the fans, but he knows."

So Rosenfels wasn't surprised when Kubiak made the quick decision to reinstate Carr this week.

"I've been in this league, this is my sixth year," Rosenfels said. "I expect anything. David's played really well this year, I think, so to me it would have been a surprise if he wasn't starting.

"He's played well. He had a bad game and that doesn't lose you your starting job for the year. Like I said, he's going to bounce back. He's going to play really good football for us this week and help us win."


The Texans travel to the Meadowlands to play the resurging Giants this week, a very tough challenge on the road. Kubiak knows this could be a huge step – one way or another – for the Texans and Carr. He has watched Carr closely this week to gauge his response, but that's nothing new.

"I watch him closely every day," Kubiak said. "I deal with him on a daily basis, but I think you're hitting on something from the simple fact that the response is very important.

"It's very important to our future how he comes out of this and plays. There are not many quarterbacks who haven't been through this and I know it's a first time for him. I had a great conversation with him yesterday and we had another pow-wow today in our meeting."

Enough said. Any quarterback debate in Houston stops at the front door of the Texans. 

EDITOR'S NOTE:Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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