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Orlovsky, Grossman begin competition


Rex Grossman and Dan Orlovsky give the Texans two highly capable backups behind starter Matt Schaub.

Dan Orlovsky knows there is an elephant in the Texans' locker room. It's hard to hide being the quarterback of the 0-16 Detroit Lions, only the second team in NFL history to go winless.

No one wants to say anything, but Orlovsky knows his resume needs work.

"All these guys know about me, really, on this team is that I was the quarterback of an 0-16 team," Orlovsky said. "So I have to do everything I can out here in practice and in games to prove to them that I can be the guy, when turned to, (and) we don't blink."

Looking at the bare facts alone, anyone with a critical nature could light up the Texans' front office.

They signed Orlovsky, despite his part in Detroit's winless season, and installed him as Matt Schaub's backup.

Then they brought in Rex Grossman, who has a Super Bowl ring but lately has had trouble finding work. Let the skeptics roar, it all clicks into place for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

{QUOTE}"Right now, Dan is our No. 2 quarterback," Shanahan said following Friday's opening training camp practice. "Rex has played in this league for a while. We brought him here to push Dan.

"If he does a better job than Dan, then we'll have to evaluate that. We need Rex to push him and make Dan better. If Rex can pass him, that will only help our team."

The Texans have been solid at quarterback when Schaub has been on the field. The problem? Schaub has missed 10 games the past two seasons because of injuries.

Some scary moments in the past two seasons operating with only two quarterbacks has convinced the Texans to consider extra insurance.

"If Rex doesn't show he's better than Dan, we want him to show us that he's worth us keeping," Shanahan said. "We haven't always taken in three quarterbacks. If he (Grossman) can show that we need to hang onto him, then we'd like to end up keeping three."

The Texans released quarterback Alex Brink, a former seventh-round pick from Washington State, in order to sign Grossman.

"We thought Alex had a pretty good shot at practice squad again and we wanted someone to really push Dan and have a legitimate chance to beat him out and have a chance to be a third quarterback," Shanahan said.

It could be a good situation for Grossman, who led the Bears to the 2006 Super Bowl but lost his job the following year. He was released following last season and, after working out with the Bengals, came to Houston in hopes of re-starting his career.

"I've faced a lot of adversity, whether it was a couple of injuries or some bad plays," Grossman said. "But, for the most part, I've had a lot of success for the last six years in Chicago. I had a lot of great games and a lot of great things happened. A lot of things happened, but I'm confident I can still get back there and keep improving."

Grossman really didn't have many options.

"They called and it seemed like a good situation, great offense and a lot of talent," Grossman said. "It was a chance to be a part of another team and start my journey back to where I want to be.

"It's a lot easier to be the starter and be comfortable in a situation, but that's not the case for me. I'm motivated to get back to that point at some point in my career. I'll start where I stand."

Orlovsky couldn't be blamed for all of the Lions' woes last season. He started seven games for Detroit last season and was the most impressive of the five quarterbacks who tried to turn the tide.

Orlovsky threw eight touchdown passes and also eight interceptions. He hit 143-of-255 passes for 1,616 yards, hardly enough to break the losing cycle.

In fact, it was Orlovsky's attitude throughout the season that attracted the Texans.

"We watched Dan on film and that was one of the things we liked about him," Shanahan said. "He was in a real tough situation, not winning a game all year, and having a lot of ups and downs. What we liked was he got better throughout the year.

"A lot of guys, when the pressure is on and the adversity comes, they get worse. He got better. We thought he handled that well. It's one of the reasons we brought him here."

Both players could have psychological baggage from their recent experiences. Last season is just a memory to Orlovsky.

"There is no psychological wall I have to climb over," Orlovsky said. "That season's over and done with. I'm extremely happy and excited to be down here and thankful to be here and enjoy the ride."

Orlovsky credits his training through the ranks for his strong will.

"When you're 0-12, 0-13, and in a city like Detroit where the weather is awful in November and December and not winning, it's easy to pack it in," Orlovsky said. "I knew it would be hard to get up every morning, watch film, make sure I got better at practice, prepare hard. I knew that was going to be the hard way, but I knew it would pay off. I'm lucky they saw that and I'm appreciative of it."

Orlovsky spent the offseason studying film of the Texans' offense and especially Schaub.

"My style is close to Matt's," Orlovsky said. "We're both big, kind of slower-footed quarterbacks. We're not going to run away from you. We do a good job of moving in the pocket and getting in position to throw. He does a better job than I do at getting in position to throw his body. That's something I try to emulate."

Orlovsky left Detroit looking for a starting assignment. He'll not likely find it here unless Schaub takes another visit to the injury list.

"I know my role," Orlovsky said. "Matt's our starting quarterback and I want him to play as well as he can this year. My work ethic and my drive and my responsibility to this team is to push him and push myself and to make both of us as good as we can."

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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