Tom Savage moves forward, but with key memory

Tom Savage will never forget it.

Week 15.

At Indianapolis.

His debut in a regular season game.

The Texans quarterback checked in when starter Ryan Fitzpatrick checked out with a broken leg.

"It's tough," Savage said recently in an interview with Texans Radio. "I'm not going to lie to you and say I don't think about it."

With 13:06 remaining in the first half, and the Texans knotted up at 7-apiece with the Colts, Savage came in and promptly completed a nine-yard pass on 3rd-and-4 to DeAndre Hopkins.

What followed were some rocky moments. But the moments weren't rocky enough to knock the Texans out of a chance at winning. Savage and the offense had the ball, down 17-10, at their own 20-yard line with 2:11 remaining in the game.

He picked up a first down, but was picked off by Vontae Davis with 1:39 left. Thirteen times the Texans have traveled to Indianapolis, and thirteen times they've lost. While nobody places the blame on Savage for the 2014 loss, the second-year signal caller still feels badly about his performance.

"It's tough to go in there with some of those guys who put that work in," Savage said. "Those guys deserved to be in the playoffs. To kind of have a hand involved in there, it was tough."

Putting that "behind me", however, is now the focus for the former Pitt Panther. And according to head coach Bill O'Brien, Savage has been impressive since that day in December.

"He's definitely improved," O'Brien said. "He's made improvements from the end of the season to where he is now."

Savage is behind the duo of Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer, who are competing for the starter's spot at quarterback. But O'Brien emphasized that the future is nonetheless bright for Savage.

"I think if he keeps making steady progress, he's got a chance," O'Brien said.

Even though he's played just over a half of football in a regular season game, Savage said the difference this May and June as opposed to those two months in 2014 is drastic.

"Obviously, last year I was kind of swimming in it," Savage said. "I'm not saying that it's easy now. I

think it's been a pretty big difference for myself from a confidence standpoint and being around the guys and understanding schemes and what we're trying to do."

Hoyer wasn't with the Texans last year, but he's been impressed with Savage too.

"I've been a second-year guy in this system," Hoyer said. "It really asks a lot of the quarterback. I think he's made, from what I've seen on the cut-ups of film from last year to where he is now, to having conversations with him, his knowledge of the offense has gotten so much better."

Savage explained how his knowledge has grown.

"I think this year I'm putting a lot more work in with the film aspect of it," Savage said. "Last year, I was just trying to study the plays and figure out what everyone was doing and where everyone was supposed to be. Now that I know that, I think being able to understand tendencies. I still got to be able to anticipate things better and throw the ball quicker."

With over a month to go before training camp begins, Savage has plenty of time to watch film. He and the Texans will get back to work at the Houston Methodist Training Center near the end of July.

QB Tom Savage, from his time as a Texan to his college days at Pitt and Rutgers.

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