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Quarterback Nall ready for Raiders

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The following feature is exclusive content for Texans' e-newsletter subscribers. Each week throughout the season, we will include a team or player feature in the e-newsletter that is exclusive to subscribers, so make sure to check your inbox each week for fresh team content.

Unemployed quarterback Craig Nall was taking a break from housework, eating popcorn and watching the fourth game of the World Series, when a good thing happened. He got a job with the Houston Texans.

Now he's eyeball deep in homework.

Nall had been out of work since Oct. 19 when he was released for the second time this season by the Buffalo Bills. Then, as it so often happens in the NFL, he was quickly back in the mix.

Goodbye honey-do's, hello cram course in learning the Texans offense.

"I was doing a whole lot of nothing, working out a little and cleaning house with my wife," Nall said. "Basically, it was waiting on a phone call to come in somewhere or to go have a workout.

"I was watching game four of the World Series. It was about 10 o'clock on the East Coast. It was a quick change of events. My wife is from Texas and I don't live but about 3 ½ hours from here (Shreveport)."

Nall arrived in Houston Monday, toured the facility, signed a contract and got to work. By Sunday, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman hopes to have Nall ready to back up Texans backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels.

{QUOTE}Starting quarterback Matt Schaub is recovering from a concussion and isn't likely to play. That means Nall could be one play away from directing the struggling Texans offense against the Oakland Raiders.

Nall isn't coming in a complete stranger. He played four seasons at Green Bay under Sherman, then the Packers' head coach. He remembers much of the Texans offense because it's similar to Sherman's system at Green Bay.

"It's a good fit getting back into the West Coast offense," Nall said. "So I don't think it's going to take me a whole lot of adjustment to get back into the way plays are called in this system.

"Granted, this week is going to be really tough because I'm trying to get acclaimed and have some time to study opponent film. I'll earn my pay check this week. I usually do pick up on things pretty quick."

The hardest part about his situation?

"I need to get up to speed," Nall said. "This is game week, not like OTAs where you have a little time to get adjusted. They aren't waiting on me so I've got to pay attention every second out at practice."

Having a familiarity with Sherman and his offensive philosophy made Nall a logical fit for the Texans.

"He's from down the highway over there in the Shreveport area," Sherman said. "We had him up there in Green Bay and he was an understudy to Favre there for a while."

That certainly limited his playing time. As a Packer, Nall played in six games, completing 23 of 33 passes for 314 yards, four touchdowns and a QB rating of 139.4.

"During the course of his career and his time spent there, it was behind one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play," Sherman said. "He certainly knows the terminology of our system. He's a heady, smart kid. He studies the game and he has some leadership ability.

"There are some nuances to him but the terminology is friendly to his tongue. He shouldn't have a problem handling that part.

Nall is in his sixth NFL season. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2002 draft by the Green Bay Packers from Northwestern State (La.) and spent four seasons in Green Bay, serving as the number two quarterback from 2003-04.

"I don't think there's anything that needs to be said that helps me prepare for this situation," Nall said. "I know how fragile the position can be at times. It's hard to have a guy step in and jell with the offense, the offensive line getting used to the cadence and all that stuff.

"I know I've got to inject myself into this system. It's on me to really prepare as if I would play this week and the way things have been going this year, that's a possibility.

"You don't wish injury on anyone but the fact is it's happened a lot at my position this year."

He's accustomed to change.

"In college in five years, I was in four different offensives so I was constantly having to relearn stuff," Nall said. "That's not something you want to go through but I've done it in the past."

At least, he won't be doing this as a rookie.

"You've got to cram, it's like I'm taking the bar this week," he said.

"I've got to re-familiarize myself with the terminology. The running game is a little bit different. It seems there's more zone blocking. The substance of the system is the same. The protections are similar.

"If you're a rookie coming into a west coast system like this, it can be overwhelming, not to say that my head is not spinning right now. After this morning I had to go take a couple of Advil. But I don't think it's going to be a huge change for me to get back into this mode of thinking."

The Texans would trim the offensive package to fit what Nall can learn this week.

"He'll be able to function on with what we give him to do," Sherman said. "I think he'll be competitive. Certainly he's behind our current quarterbacks not having been with us for the last nine months. Hopefully he'll catch up and be able to contribute."

Nall spent spring 2003 in NFL Europe where he started all 10 games for the Scottish Claymores and led the league in touchdown passes with 18 and QB rating with 95.9.

Nall signed with the Buffalo Bills on March 21, 2006. He spent last season as the third quarterback on the Bills roster.

Nall considers his contract with the Texans another chance.

"It's amazing to me how many injuries there have been throughout the league," Nall said. "That's the nature of being a two or three backup. You still have to prepare. I've been in this situation before. This should be a fun ride."

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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