NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - INSIDE SLANT
Houston has gone Case Crazy for new quarterback Case Keenum, who made an impressive debut for the Texans in a 17-16 loss at Kansas City, but coach Gary Kubiak isn't ready to anoint him as the starter over Matt Schaub.
In his first start since the University of Houston defeated Penn State in a bowl game after his senior year of 2011, Keenum completed 15-of-25 for 271 yards and a touchdown. He didn't throw an interception and left Arrowhead Stadium with a rating of 110.6.
Not only did Keenum make his first start against the NFL's only remaining unbeaten team, in a hostile environment against the league's best pass rush, but the Texans suffered what could have been devastating personnel losses.
During the game, the Texans lost running back Arian Foster (hamstring) and inside linebacker Brian Cushing (torn LCL and a fractured fibula). Running back Ben Tate, the only other active player at his position, left the game with broken ribs, returned and was ineffective.
And the Texans still had a chance to win until the Chiefs figured out they didn't have to worry about the run and could tee off on Keenum, who was sacked five times and led an offense that managed minus-1 yard in the fourth quarter.
Kubiak was asked Monday if Keenum would start after the bye against Indianapolis if Matt Schaub recovered from ankle and foot injuries?
"I've got to sit down and look at our situation and what's going on right now," Kubiak said. "Obviously, Matt's our starting quarterback. Case (Keenum) played this week because Matt wasn't healthy. Case played extremely well.
"I'm going to evaluate where we're at as a team. I'm going to do that everywhere, not just at the quarterback position."
Keenum, who completed passes for two 42-yard gains, a 35-yarder and a 29-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, made a good impression on Kubiak.
"I was impressed with what he did," Kubiak said. "He went into that environment, with that noise and had no huddle issues. We had no problems getting our game plan run. I think we had one false start.
"He did a lot of things that he's got to go improve for us to be successful. For a first time out and the position he was in, he handled the team very well."
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - NOTES, QUOTES
--The Texans waived three rookies -- running back Cierre Wood, outside linebacker Willie Jefferson and defensive end Sam Montgomery -- for violating team rules at the Texans' hotel in Kansas City the night before the game.
Coach Gary Kubiak sent them home, made them inactive for the game and then placed them on waivers.
"I won't discuss team rules," Kubiak said.
"I feel like they wasted a big opportunity," outside linebacker Brooks Reed said. "I'm sure they're realizing it right now. It's crazy and unfortunate because they had a great opportunity here to be successful. They just didn't get it. I don't understand why someone would do that to themselves."
The decision to make Wood inactive for the game hurt the team because running backs Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (ribs) suffered injuries. Wood would have received a lot of playing time.
"It's disappointing because each of them had promise," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "For one of them (Wood), it would have been his time to write his resume. Everybody was surprised. It's a hard hit, especially with what happened in the game.
"We knew before the game. Coach told us. He always lets us know the decisions he's going to make. Then you get into the game, and Arian gets hurt, and Ben gets hurt, and it puts the team in a predicament. You've got to care more about your team."
The decision to release the three rookies left general manager Rick Smith and pro personnel director Brian Gardner looking for replacements.
"Yes, we could have (used Wood)," offensive tackle Duane Brown said. "It's very frustrating to have that happen knowing we had a back that was capable of carrying the load for us. It was a big missed opportunity on his part.
"I wish those guys well. I hope they're able to bounce back from this situation and land on their feet somewhere."
Meanwhile, the agent for Montgomery denied an ESPN.com report that he was released by the team for marijuana use.
"It is our position that the story written about Sam Montgomery by ESPN which sets forth that he was dismissed from the Houston Texans for using marijuana is completely inaccurate," agent Jeff Guerriero said in a statement sent by text message to ESPN.com. "Mr. Montgomery was dismissed from the team for allegedly violating a team rule. This can be confirmed by the Houston Texan personnel."
--The Texans have their first five-game losing streak since the 2005 season when they finished 2-14, the league's worst record. Coach Dom Capers was fired after the season, and he was replaced by Gary Kubiak.
--Inside linebacker Brian Cushing will have Dr. James Andrews repair his torn lateral cruciate ligament and fractured fibula in Pensacola, Fla., this week.
Cushing suffered the season-ending injuries in Sunday's 17-16 loss at Kansas City. Cushing said on Monday it'll be a three-month rehab process, about a third of what it took him to return from surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament last season.
"I will rehab again harder than ever," Cushing said. "Last year was just the warmup. I'm at expert at the process now. I will be back better than ever next year, and that's a fact."
--Losing inside linebacker Brian Cushing and waiving outside linebacker Willie Jefferson is causing changes in the depth chart.
Darryl Sharpton will replace Cushing in the lineup next to Joe Mays. Tim Dobbins, an inside veteran with starting experience, has been out with a hamstring injury. Mike Mohamed, an undrafted rookie free agent, was signed from the practice squad and contributed on special teams.
The Texans will sign a veteran.
Because Jefferson was waived, rookie Justin Tuggle was moved from the inside to the outside, where he'll back up Brooks Reed. Veteran Bryan Braman backs up Whitney Mercilus on the other side.
--The Texans need a third running back to replace Cierre Wood, who was waived. They could move rookie Ray Graham from the practice squad, or they can sign a veteran. They're fortunate to have the bye week to sign someone and get him acquainted with their system.
Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (ribs) were injured in the Kansas City game.
"We've got a young man (Graham) who we've been very impressed with," coach Gary Kubiak said. "Ray's been practicing really well. I don't think anything's guaranteed. We're looking at a couple of things."
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Andre Johnson tied his season high with a 42-yard catch from Case Keenum at Kansas City. He finished with four receptions for 89 yards, a 22.3-yard average.
--P Shane Lechler got his groove back. He punted five times against the Chiefs. He had a gross of 49.8 yards and a net of 43.4. Three of his five punts were inside the 20.
--K Randy Bullock hasn't missed a field goal in the last two games, connecting on three at Kansas City, including from 48 and 47 yards. He's made six in a row.
--DE J.J. Watt may have played his best game. He led the team with six unassisted tackles. He had a sack, a forced fumble and a deflection. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said he thought Watt "was tremendous."
--OT Duane Brown had two penalties in the first half of the Chiefs' game. He also had problems on pass protection working against outside linebacker Tamba Hali.
--QB Matt Schaub (ankle, foot) missed the Chiefs game and might be healthy for the Colts after the bye week.
--ILB Tim Dobbins (hamstring) hasn't played since the second game of the season.
--RB Arian Foster (hamstring) says he expects to be ready for the Colts after the bye week.
--RB Ben Tate said he has four broken ribs but will play against the Colts.
--LT Duane Brown (ankle) played with a lot of soreness.
REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS
PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Considering Case Keenum was making his first start against the NFL's best pass rush, he did a terrific job. If his pass protection had been better in the fourth quarter, he might have pulled out a victory. He threw for 271 yards on only 15 completions. He did a good job of keeping his eyes down the field.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Arian Foster left in the first quarter, and Ben Tate was on his own. He had 50 yards on 15 carries before suffering broken ribs. They didn't have a third back because Cierre Wood was inactive for violating team rules and was placed on waivers.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- Alex Smith threw for 240 yards to become the first quarterback to throw for at least 200 yards against the Texans this season. He had no touchdowns and one interception. Safety Shiloh Keo made the interception, the Texans' third this season.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- The Texans allowed Jamaal Charles to rush for 86 yards. They let Alex Smith run for 28, including a 20-yard first down and a 5-yard touchdown. The Chiefs totaled 126 yards and averaged 3.9 a carry.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Punter Shane Lechler and kicker Randy Bullock were terrific. Coverage was terrible. Returns were mediocre. The Texans must do something about their kickoff and punt coverage.
COACHING: B -- Gary Kubiak used the shotgun with Keenum and kept him out of trouble until the fourth quarter. The defense allowed a field goal in the second half and wanted to win for coordinator Wade Phillips, whose father, Bum Phillips, died Friday night.