The backup quarterback is often referred to as the most popular player in town. Some kind of trickle-down effect has conveyed that popularity from last year’s backup, T.J. Yates, to Case Keenum. This fall from grace is not the consequence of anything Yates has done, but what he has not done.
Circumstances conspired to deprive him of any worthwhile playing time. Matt Schaub stayed healthy for the entire schedule, and all that was left was some mop-up duty in three blowout losses.
It’s not so much what has been said as what has not been said. None of the coverage coming from training camp has hinted that Yates is the future of the franchise. What has been published always included Keenum in the discussion.
Fred Davis, one of the hosts of The Fred and Ted Show on Sports Radio 610 in Houston, was one of Yates’ biggest supporters in the offseason. The action in training camp has changed his mind:
As for Yates, this was a guy that I openly campaigned for as someone who should get more of a shot at the starting QB spot heading into last season and even at parts of last season when Matt Schaub played so poorly. But nothing I’ve seen out of him so far in two training camp practices has me excited or even remotely encouraged.
In the Quick Hits feature on the Houston Texans website, Yates was asked a series of questions that range from “Best restaurant in Houston” to “Who’s the funniest guy in the locker room?” His answer to “This is your third camp now, is each year any different from the last?” was most revealing:
Yeah. My first camp was right out of the lockout so we got our playbooks like a week prior to camp. Heading into camp, my head was spinning and it was completely different as far as every moment that we had off of camp or meetings I was studying. Nowadays I don’t have to do that.
This response could be interpreted as to how comfortable he feels based on experience, or that complacency has started to creep in.
When final cuts are made on August 31, last year’s No. 2 quarterback could be this year’s tenant once more. Keenum would be stashed on the practice squad for another season, and the status quo would be maintained.
Then again, a team in desperate need of a competent reserve QB might be willing to acquire Yates in exchange for a draft choice. However it turns out, this is turning into the top position battle in camp.