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Houston Texans

Rosenfels, Boyd ready if needed


This isn't the storyline Matt Schaub had in mind back in two-a-days. Or, even after the Texans opened the season 2-0 for the first time in club history.

Schaub started the season as the savior of the offense, someone who could get rid of the football quickly and into the hands of Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson.

Schaub never considered the possibility that injuries would drastically change the outcome of his first season as a starting quarterback. NFL players don't want to think about the unthinkable. Still, a hip injury, concussion and dislocated left shoulder will get your attention.

"It's frustrating," Schaub said. "Sitting here a few months ago, we had different ideas of how things would go and how things would turn out. Here we are 5-7 with four games to play and three at home.

"We've got a tough schedule, but we need to stay positive and move forward because we still can control how our season ends. We need to go out each day to prepare to win."

With Schaub unlikely to play Sunday against Tampa Bay, Sage Rosenfels is preparing to make the start, and practice squad quarterback Shane Boyd got plenty of snaps in Wednesday's practice. Boyd could be the backup on Sunday.

"We'll prepare Sage as our guy and Shane will back him up and if a miracle happens between now and then with Matt, we'll go from there," coach Gary Kubiak said.

A small miracle would be nice considering what the Texans have had to endure with injuries this season.

Kubiak isn't counting on an act of God.

"He's out of the sling, which is good, but he's still hurting pretty good," Kubiak said of Schaub. "Do I think there's a chance this week? I don't think so at this point. We'll keep going and since it's not his throwing shoulder, it's a matter of knowing when he can protect himself and get back on the field. I don't see that right now."

Rosenfels sees a big task ahead for the Texans' offense.

"It's a big challenge for us, especially offensively," Rosenfels said. "They are a great defense, super speed, not a super complicated scheme, but great players and very well-taught. I'm going to prepare to play whether or not Matt's 100 percent healthy. I'm prepared to play."

Rosenfels thinks the offense has adjusted to both quarterbacks.

"I don't think there's a huge difference," Rosenfels said. "Matt and I have similar styles, so as far as the game plan coach (Mike) Sherman and Kubiak don't have to change the game plan a lot. Basically the last game, I played the whole game."

{QUOTE}Boyd, an undrafted free agent from Kentucky in 2005, has been in camp with the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and most recently the Cardinals. Could this be his big chance?

"It boils down to being ready at all times," Boyd said. "Your number can be called. That's how football is. You are always one play away."

Boyd got a message from Kubiak that quickened his heartbeat.

"He wasn't a man of many words," Boyd said. "He said, 'Get ready to play. Your number could be called this week. We need you to zone in and you'll potentially be our backup guy.'

"I'm really excited. This is our dream. This is what we do."

Schaub wanted his first full season as a starter to be different. He doesn't think he's an injury magnet.

"I never expected that," Schaub said. "It's one of those things that happens. I hate to use the word luck or unlucky. Obviously, it's very frustrating at the same time."

Schaub left the first Tennessee game on Oct. 21 with a hip injury after being pancaked on a sack by mammoth defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The following week against San Diego, he received a concussion and was forced onto the inactive list for the Oakland game.

He returned for two games and appeared ready for a fast finish. He completed 21-of-33 passes against New Orleans, threw two touchdown passes and had a quarterback rating of 112.3. The Texans won 23-10.

Schaub passed for 256 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Cleveland. Then last week once again against the Titans, he suffered a dislocated left shoulder and the Texans turned the offense over to Rosenfels.

"I've done a lot of good things out there and I've made mistakes also, but the more you play the more comfortable you feel," Rosenfels said. "You usually play better when you are comfortable and confident."

Rosenfels started his first game for the Texans during Schaub's inactive week against the Raiders. He didn't play the next two weeks, but stepped in again against the Titans when Schaub was helped off the field in the first quarter.

Rosenfels' big day came against the Titans on Oct. 21. He completed 22-of-35 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns for the greatest comeback in Texans history. The team still lost 38-36.

"It's been a tough season, we've had a lot of injuries," Rosenfels said. "But we're going to keep fighting and I think everyone can realize how much better we are as a football team from last year.

"We got blown out a lot last year. That hasn't happened this year. The last two games could have gone either way. We could be sitting here 7-5 and talking playoffs, but a few plays here and there and we are 5-7."

Boyd is excited about his opportunity.

"If I'm the backup and Sage goes down, it's up to me to keep the team flowing, the offense moving regardless of where I am on the depth chart," Boyd said.

"I'm more athletic a little bit and I can move the pocket and my arm strength, those are just attributes that the Texans saw in me to sign me and they saw that in preseason when I was with the Cardinals and I played against them."

Rosenfels once was in Boyd's position: just seeking a chance.

"The key for him is what he's been doing since he's been here," Rosenfels said. "He's been in that playbook."

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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