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Delhomme looks good in fill-in role


So what if Jake Delhomme hadn't played in an NFL game since 2010?

Didn't matter.

Delhomme became the fourth quarterback under center this season for the Texans and he almost pulled off a big victory before a final two-point attempt failed in a 23-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans Sunday.

Delhomme completed 18-of-28 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown in a little more than three quarters of playing time after starter T.J. Yates left the game with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.

"He's played a lot of football, so he knew what to do," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We struggled with some structure, some of the things we do offensively. When you are to your fourth guy, you'll probably struggle with some of those things."

Delhomme signed with the Texans on Nov. 29. He'd spent the rest of the season working with his horses in Louisiana.

"I'd planned on him playing anyway," Kubiak said of Delhomme. "He was playing with a lot of different guys and a different center the whole second half, but he did some good stuff. He got a lot of work. That's a good thing. If he ends up having to play next week, if something would happen to T.J. next week, then he's got some reps under his belt."

Despite three consecutive losses, the Texans will enter the playoffs Sunday as the AFC South champions and No. 3 seed in the AFC.

Yates had an even more abrupt entrance into the Texans' lineup at Jacksonville, replacing Matt Lienart, who lasted less than a half after replacing starter Matt Schaub, out for the season with a foot injury.

Delhomme was positive after the defeat.

"It was a work in progress," Delhomme said. "I felt much better after the game. I'm still learning here, but the coaches did a great job. We ran a lot of plays today that I've seen on paper, I've seen in practice.

"I learned more in this game than I have in the last month, and I learned more in the last month than I have in my life, just football, trying to catch up. Just learning things, it felt good, especially in the second half."

Delhomme threw a five-yard touchdown to Bryant Johnson with 14 seconds to play. The Texans lined up for a two-point conversion and tight end Joel Dreessen was called for offsides and a five-yard penalty.

The Texans tried again for two points and the victory, but a high snap over Delhomme's head by Thomas Austin ended the game.

"It might have just been a little high and hot," Delhomme said of the snap. "We knew we were going for the win. That was talked about on the sideline before the drive even started, before the previous drive, we're going to score, we were going for the win."

Delhomme made a good impression on his receivers.

"He stepped in right away and was firing," Kevin Walter said. "It was fun to see that. He came in and the guys were really excited. He made plays out there. That is why he has been playing in the league for so long. He still has it. It's pretty impressive."

Kubiak said Yates would be evaluated overnight. Yates is expected to assume his starting role again in the playoffs.

"He's got a bruised shoulder at this moment," Kubiak said. "He'll be evaluated later this evening and I'll know more in the morning. He could have went back in the game, obviously, I didn't want to him to go back in that game at that point."

Delhomme said he'd worked very hard in his one month to be prepared for what happened Sunday.

"I think T.J. will be fine," Delhomme said. "He's a fine kid. He's a fine player. He did well with his limited time out there today. But you have to be ready. I prepare to be ready every week. I know Jeff (Garcia) did the same. We wouldn't be playing this game at our age if we didn't love it and understand what it takes to somewhat be successful.

"So, we're going to prepare like crazy and whatever happens, happens."

Delhomme said he felt comfortable with more of the playbook than he would have two weeks ago.

"They were working with quite a bit of it today," Delhomme said. "I think the first couple of weeks we had an emergency type situation, plays I felt comfortable with. The last couple of weeks, I've gotten more comfortable with the big picture."

After the Cleveland Browns released Delhomme in July, he continued to work out at his home in Breaux Bridge, La. Just to be prepared should the right offer surface.

"I stayed in shape," Delhomme said. "To say I threw three times a week would be a lie. I stayed in shape because I didn't know if I was going back to Cleveland because of the lockout, we just didn't know. I was in good enough shape to go somewhere in August, but some of the opportunities I had I wasn't ready to leave the family."

Delhomme stayed in Louisiana until the Texans called. He likes the team's chances, even though most of the players haven't been to the playoffs.

"It was a breath of fresh air for me to come here this year and see how these guys work and prepare," Delhomme said. "When I see people do things the right way, I have so much respect, and these guys do it the right way."

And he's not concerned about playoff inexperience.

"This team is going to be ready," Delhomme said. "Sometimes, innocence is bliss. This team is going to play well."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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