"Both guys are even."
That's what Bill O'Brien said after Tuesday's practice about his quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett as they sling it around for the starting spot.
Eventually O'Brien will name a starter for Saturday night's preseason opener but he cautioned the media not to read too much into the decision.
Anyone watching practice can tell you the coach isn't lying. Each quarterback has had some dazzling moments and each has had some plays they would like to strike from the record.
O'Brien preaches consistency on and off the field. But it's hard for observers to decipher just who has the edge in the classroom. And maybe all completions aren't created equal. What if there's a short throw to the running back when there was a wide receiver wide open that went ignored? Only the coaches know if all the criteria are being met.
Both quarterbacks have to try to look smooth against a secondary that's loaded at cornerback. Hoyer has more playing experience and had Cleveland in the AFC North lead past the halfway point of the season until the wheels came off. Mallett engineered the win that helped send Cleveland to the showers. But this is about the moment and who is rising to the occasion.
O'Brien told us back in January that his quarterback situation would likely be a competition. That was before Hoyer signed and Mallett resigned. Almost seven months later we are getting closer to a verdict.
But maybe whoever wins shouldn't get too comfortable. "One guy will start and the other guy will back up and we'll go from there."
'Going from there' might include making a change if things aren't going according to plan. After all, Mallett got in when O'Brien went to the bullpen following a loss to Philadelphia that dropped the Texans to 4-5 last year.
Either way, Saturday night's game will be a big indicator of who the ultimate signal call might be. Or not.
The Houston Texans roster in photos.