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Houston Texans

Rosenfels ready to silence critics


Sage Rosenfels feels like he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Now he has a chance to prove it.

Sage Rosenfels can do the math. He's been in the NFL eight seasons with three teams and he's yet to be a starting quarterback. He's had chances to prove himself worthy of leading a team.

Now he's about to get another shot. This time, just maybe he'll prove the naysayers wrong.

"I've been a backup for eight years," Rosenfels said. "So if there are 32 teams, for eight years that's 256 times that teams have said, 'This guy's not our starter.' I think there's some (naysayers) out there."

Rosenfels' latest opportunity arose on Sunday when a low hit by Minnesota's Jared Allen sent starting quarterback Matt Schaub to the sidelines with a knee injury. Schaub could be out four weeks, giving Rosenfels an extended trial period.

"Every time you go on the field is a chance to prove that," Rosenfels said. "But our resume as football players is what we do on the field. Obviously, every time I go out there it's a chance for me to prove the naysayers wrong and prove to myself that I can play in this league, which I feel I can."

Rosenfels has had plenty of chances to play over the past three seasons with the Texans after previously playing at Washington and Miami. He didn't play in the first six games this season. He started against Indianapolis and had the Texans on the cusp of a big upset before the Colts scored three touchdowns over little more than the final two minutes to pull out a 31-27 victory over the stunned Texans.

Rosenfels contributed to the Indianapolis rally and hence the uncertainty of his status as a legitimate NFL starter. He fumbled twice to set up Indianapolis touchdowns and then he threw an interception on his final pass of the game to end chances of a Houston rally. Rosenfels doesn't plan on a repeat of his unfortunate turnover binge against the Colts.

He played the second half against Minnesota on Sunday and completed 21-of-29 passes and two touchdowns. But he did have one interception.

"I feel I've played pretty well 95 percent of the time this year and in that (Colts) game and last week," Rosenfels said. "But a winning quarterback plays good for the entire game and that's what I have to do this week.

{QUOTE}"Every play I'm up there I'll be aware as possible of the ball. I might be taking some sacks this week and I might be throwing the ball away. Punting isn't a sin."

Rosenfels never has won in the five games when he's replaced Schaub during a game. When he's had a full week working with the Texans' first- team offense, he's helped produce four victories.

"It gets you the reps in practice," Rosenfels said. "That's where it helps the most. People probably don't realize that it's not very easy to go out there and run an entire offense and you've gotten none of those reps through the week. We do a lot of formation (work) and a lot of things like that, and it's very difficult to go out there and try to run an entire game plan that you've just seen somebody else do and you've just seen on a chalk board."

Rosenfels shouldn't be judged totally on his occasional lapses. He has been an outstanding fourth quarter performer, with the exception of the final minutes against Indianapolis. In 11 games over the past two seasons, Rosenfels has a 106.4 passer rating in the fourth quarter.

Since 2007, Rosenfels has completed 70.2 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter and thrown 12 of his 18 touchdown passes in the final period.

Rosenfels will need four quarters on Sunday when the Texans go against the Baltimore Ravens at Reliant Stadium. He could have picked an easier team for his starting assignment.

"This is the most difficult defense to prepare for since I've been in the league and I've been in the league eight years," Rosenfels said. "I've seen a few things and this is as tough as it gets. You have to prepare for these guys mentally but then physically they are as good as any team in the league."

What makes them so tough?

"They probably run every blitz and coverage that's ever been in the NFL in history from every front," Rosenfels said. "They don't just stand there and say we're better than you. They've got great players and they do it all.

"It's hard to put a finger on exactly what they are doing at times. They are all over the place and they blitz from everywhere and on top of that they've got great players. It's a great defense."

Coach Gary Kubiak is confident in Rosenfels' ability, but concerned about what would happen if Rosenfels receives an injury. Craig Nall, signed this week, will be Rosenfels' backup against the NFL's second-ranked defense.

"It's kind of nerve-wracking when you've got one guy and the guy behind him hasn't been here, but that's a part of the situation," Kubiak said. "We've got to go play. We've got to give him an opportunity to lead us. Our guys have to play well around him."

Schaub led the Texans on an unprecedented three-game win streak before Sunday's loss at Minnesota. It didn't help much as he left Reliant Stadium Wednesday to begin his rehab.

Still, he feels he's leaving the team in good hands.

"Sage has played well when he's been in there," Schaub said. "It's a good opportunity for him and one that I believe he'll take advantage of. He's played well when he's been in there, so as a team we need him to go in there and do the same.

"He needs to just keep doing what he's done when he's played. He needs to go in there and run the offense and not try and to do too much and let things come to you."

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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