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Case Keenum's Big Ally

Case Keenum gets help from important friend in Texans QB fight

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Case Keenum Lestar Jean Texans
Case Keenum and Lestar Jean have forged a connection from putting plenty of extra work together in Houston. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Lestar Jean Texans TD
Lestar Jean's been part of some of Case Keenum's biggest moments, including the 38-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-two against the Dolphins.  Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Case Keenum run Texans
Case Keenum has the backup quarterback job in sight. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Gary Kubiak Texans crouch
Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak has a tough quarterback decision ahead of him. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Lestar Jean Texans catch
Lestar Jean desperately needed a big preseason. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Case Keenum Lestar Jean Texans
Lestar Jean Texans TD
Case Keenum run Texans
Gary Kubiak Texans crouch
Lestar Jean Texans catch
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

The bond built in the Texas winter as a quarterback and a wide receiver who both knew they needed to come up big in the summer found common ground. And necessity.

Case Keenum needed someone to throw to, someone he could work on his timing and touch with, someone with NFL caliber skills. Lestar Jean needed someone to zip him the football, someone who'd help build back his confidence with every throw, someone who'd never doubt if he belonged.

So Keenum and Jean got together and played catch. Over and over and over again. This is how they'd keep their dreams alive.

"We'd go wherever we could find an open field," Keenum says of the offseason work. "Luckily, there are a lot of places you can go around here."

And oh, the places they could go now. To say Keenum is pushing for the Houston Texans' No. 2 quarterback spot is putting it mildly. He's pushing like Hank is pushing Walter White in Breaking Bad. It's a little more intense than a slight shove. Keenum's driven the Texans to five scoring drives and 27 points in two preseason games. Incumbent backup quarterback T.J. Yates has led two scoring drives in the two games, while essentially playing the same amount of time.

 He looks almost slight and very ordinary in everyday clothes. But Case  Keenum can throw the football with almost anyone.

Keenum's not just pushing, he should be in the lead. Even if Texans coach Gary Kubiak is not about to acknowledge such a notion.

"They both are doing their jobs and doing it very well," Kubiak insists at his Sunday afternoon press conference, while revealing that he might wait as late as a few days before the Sept. 9 Monday Night opener at San Diego to declare which quarterback is No. 2. "Both of them played very good (in the second preseason game)."

And Jean? He's caught eight passes for a team-high 109 yards and two touchdowns in two preseason games, forcing himself very much back into the wide receiver mix. Not bad for a guy who could have been in real danger of getting cut with a poor camp.

Both of Jean's touchdown catches came on passes from Keenum, including a gutsy 38-yard strike on fourth-and-2 Saturday night. Keenum and Jean's offseason work will not get anything close to the amount of attention Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson's throwing sessions at the University of Houston did last offseason. But, they just might go a long way toward changing the Texans' depth chart.

"It sure seems that way doesn't it?" Keenum says when asked if he and Jean have forged a special quarterback-receiver connection. "Lestar is one of those guys who stays in Houston all year. I've thrown a lot of passes to him."

NFL Quarterback Leadership

Keenum — the former University of Houston NCAA record breaker — is another one of those Texans who spends the overwhelming majority of his time in Houston. He and his wife Kimberly Keenum got an apartment near Reliant Stadium after he signed with the Texans so he'd always be close to the facility — the better to study the NFL game.

Still, Keenum smartly brushes off any idea that he's outworking anyone.

"We all work hard," he tells a TV reporter who asks if No. 7's work ethic is carrying him in this quarterback fight.

No smart NFL player is ever going to publicly put his work habits above another player's. Besides pining it all on hard work is another way of ignoring Case Keenum's real talent. When you see Keenum in the locker room after a game — dressed in a simple blue polo and tan shorts as he is after the preseason affair with the Dolphins — it's easy to dismiss him as the least naturally talented of the Texans quarterbacks.

He looks almost slight and very ordinary in everyday clothes. But Case Keenum can throw the football with almost anyone.

 Keenum's not just pushing, he should be in the lead. Even if Texans coach Gary Kubiak is not about to acknowledge such a notion 

"Case throws a great ball," Jean says. "He gets it to you where you need it."

He also gets how important confidence is. Jean dropped a few Keenum passes in the first preseason game as well, including a should-have-been touchdown.

The quarterback's response? Keenum just kept throwing the ball to his guy. 

"Star has a lot of talent," Keenum says. "You don't give up on a guy like that. I've missed him when he's been open too. You just go to the next play."

Keenum and Jean will keep playing catch and see where it takes them.

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