With the Texans 27-13 preseason win at Minnesota Friday night, the question of who should be the backup quarterback behind Matt Schaub just got a bit muddier.
T.J. Yates, the current number two backup, led the team in passing and threw a spectacular pass to rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for his first career NFL touchdown. Case Keenum, former University of Houston star quarterback who was signed off the practice squad last season, passed for 125 yards, led two drives that ended in touchdowns, and amassed a 109.7 quarterback passer rating.
Yates stepped in at quarterback in the Texans' second possession, after Schaub finished his one series that resulted in a 48-yard field goal by Randy Bullock. In the second quarter, Yates threw a 34-yard pass to rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the Texans' first touchdown of the game. The drive consisted of 12 plays for 85 yards that lasted 6:02 minutes. Yates finished out the Texans first half 13-for-21 with 151 yards and a touchdown, despite being scoreless in the first quarter.
The second half began with the Vikings leading 13-10 and the third-string Keenum taking over. Keenum's first drive ended in a punt after three-and-out. His second drive of the third quarter lasted 6:33 and consisted of 15 plays spanning 90 yards. The drive ended in 21-yard field goal by Randy Bullock, which tied the score 13-13 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Keenum was 3-for-3 on third downs. He connected with receiver Lestar Jean on a short two-yard touchdown pass to the left side of the endzone, giving the Texans the lead 20-13 with 10:32 remaining in the game.
"Yeah, it was fun," Keenum said about the pass to Jean. "That was my first touchdown pass in the NFL. I know it's preseason, but it was a long time coming for me."
Keenum also set up a rushing touchdown by Ray Graham after marching the Texans down the field on a seven-play, 42-yard drive.
Both Yates and Keenum contributed to a record-setting day for the Texans offense. Houston set a preseason franchise record with 439 yards of total offense and amassed the second-most passing yardage in preseason game history with 306 net yards gained.
"I think it's good," Keenum said of the quarterback battle between him and Yates. "I think we're pushing each other and making each other better. That's what football's about. What's great is that T.J. is a great guy and I've got a lot of respect for him (not only) as a player, but as a person as well. We bounce things off each other and learn from each other on and off the field. It's a good chemistry we've got going lately."
For now, both Yates and Keenum are focused on making themselves better and building on Friday's success.
"It's good. We are both playing some good football right now," Yates said after Friday's win. "The quarterback room as a whole today played really good. That's just what we are here for. We're all helping each other out, rooting for each other. (QB) Coach Karl (Dorrell) is going to be happy tonight."