It's a brand new offseason, but Tom Savage isn't taking anything for granted these days.
After three seasons as a backup, 26-year-old quarterback had finally earned his spot as a starter last December. When a Week 17 concussion sidelined him, he was visibly upset. Not only would he miss the rest of the regular season finale against Tennessee, Savage wouldn't take a single snap in the postseason.
Now nearly four months later, Savage is completely healthy and eager for a chance to regain his role as Houston's starting quarterback.
"I bounced around quite a bit in college and I think a lot of that journey kind of made me who I am today and just going forward," Savage said Monday. "This is a heck of an opportunity and I'm really pumped for it. I have to go out there every day and earn it. That's kind of the mindset that was instilled in me throughout this whole process."
Savage, a fourth-round draft selection (135th overall) in 2014, played his senior year at Pittsburgh. He transferred to Pitt after two seasons (2009-10) at Rutgers University and the University of Arizona. Savage, though quick to adapt, now has a stability in Houston that he didn't experience at the collegiate level.
"Just being in this system for – shoot, this is going on my fourth year now – obviously this is the longest offense I have ever been in in my life," Savage said. "It's going to be fun. I think just going forward and stuff, we have to be able to play fast, and ultimately we have to be able to protect the ball because with the defense and the team that we have, that's going to be the key to this deal."
Savage, entering his fourth season under Bill O'Brien, has the most experience in the Texans offense and the benefit of the NFL's No. 1 defense on the other side. While he only started two games last year, coming off the bench in a third, he knows what he needs to work on moving forward. Getting the ball in the endzone is one of those goals.
"I thought it was good to go out there and play," Savage said. "That's one thing that I haven't been able to do is go out there in a real life, regular season game and go out there and play and move the ball a little bit. Obviously, the no touchdowns deal, that is what it is and that's something that we are going to improve on. I'm going to give the ball to those playmakers and let them go make a play."
Savage will get his opportunity this spring to work with playmakers like DeAndre Hopkins on the practice field. For the first time since he was drafted, Savage should see his share of practice reps increase. From third-string quarterback to a potential fourth-year starter, his approach to the game hasn't wavered.
"It's going to be awesome," Savage said. "I've never gotten that opportunity, but the past three years, every rep you get, you have to take advantage of it. Obviously, I'll be getting some more this year and I'm really looking forward to it."
The Texans began Phase 1 of their nine-week offseason workout at NRG Stadium on Monday.