If there were any doubts that Matt Schaub was fully recovered from his 2011 foot injury, he has erased them over the last three weeks.
In five quarters of game action this preseason, Schaub has completed 29-of-38 passes for 374 yards (76.3 percent), two touchdowns and one interception. He has averaged 9.8 yards per pass attempt. He has a 113.3 passer rating and has been sacked only once.
"I feel good," Schaub said after carving up the New Orleans Saints for 194 yards and a touchdown on Saturday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. "I'm ready to go. Everything feels great. I'm healthy, and just ready to go play Week 1."
Schaub went 15-of-18 on Saturday, good for a passer rating of 130.1. A week earlier, he was 11-of-14 for 128 yards and a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers. He started the preseason 3-of-6 for 52 yards and an interception on the road against the Carolina Panthers.
"Man, he continues to get better every week," Texans tight end Owen Daniels said on Saturday. "You can see it day to day that he's getting more comfortable. All that rust is about knocked off, and he's back into regular-season form, right where we need him to be. That leadership continues to be there on the practice field and on the field here today."
Against the Saints, Schaub was 4-of-5 for 60 yards on an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to start the game. He was 8-of-9 for 103 yards and a touchdown after two drives, putting the Texans up 14-0 in a matter of eight minutes.
Schaub was effective on play-action fakes and bootlegs. He threaded passes into tight windows where only his receivers could get them. He completed passes to nine different receivers.
Among those receivers were running back Arian Foster, who described Schaub's return to the lineup this fall as "wonderful, man – wonderful."
"I love seeing him back under center and operating the offense like I know he can," Foster said. "He just has a great feel for the game. It's going to be a special year if we stay healthy and do what we're supposed to do."
The Texans advanced to the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season with Schaub on injured reserve. Before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc injury in Week 10, Schaub led the Texans to a 7-3 record with 15 touchdown passes to only six interceptions. He ranked second in the AFC behind Tom Brady in 2011 with 8.5 yards per attempt and a 96.8 passer rating.
Schaub sat out of spring practices, then organized players-only throwing sessions this summer before returning to practice at the start of training camp on July 28.
"He's been finding his groove throughout camp," Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. "Obviously, last year (he had) the injury and this year, he came right back in. If you didn't know any better, you wouldn't think he missed a beat."
Schaub has adjusted to a new group of targets this fall. Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin have become part of a four-man wide receiver rotation with Pro Bowler Andre Johnson, who missed the first week of camp with a groin injury, and Kevin Walter. Tight end Garrett Graham has replaced Joel Dreessen as the Texans' second tight end.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he thought Schaub was rusty at the start of camp – rust that has quickly, and very clearly, gone away.
"I thought he was very challenged when camp opened because Andre wasn't out there," Kubiak said. "We were working all these young receivers, and I thought that was tough on him. But I think it's really made him better. He's come a long way. He's comfortable now with Lestar. He's comfortable with Keshawn, with these new guys on the team, with Garrett.
"I think Matt has grown into a better player here over the course of the last three weeks through some trials of the other things that were going on with our offense. Boy, he's had one heck of a camp. (Saturday) night was a great statement that, 'Hey, I'm ready to play.'"