Case Keenum rescued the University of Houston in the clutch on plenty of occasions. Now, he has to save himself with the pressure on.
Keenum's future with the Houston Texans is essentially coming down to the final game of the preseason — the first exhibition game where he will receive extended time under center. While the Texans' starters will rest (thankfully) for Thursday night's matchup against the Minnesota Vikings at Reliant Stadium, it's anything but a small-time practice game for Keenum.
Kubiak seems to praise Keenum every chance he gets. But that can be a double-edged sword.
The UH icon is fighting NFL veteran John Beck for the Texans' third-string quarterback job. And while it's a little too simplistic to say that whichever man plays better on Thursday night will get the job, it's not that far from the truth.
"I need to take a hard look at John and Case," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We've got a decision to make there."
There is still the possibility Keenum could make the practice squad if he's beaten out by Beck. But with the Texans facing the toughest final roster decisions of the Kubiak era, there are no guarantees. And you can bet Keenum doesn't want to make the team that way either.
Not with a job there for the taking.
As CultureMap detailed, Keenum and his wife Kimberly moved into a place right on Kirby Drive so that he could be as close to the Texans' facility as possible. Keenum's put in the work — as usual.
Now, he needs to grab an NFL moment.
Keenum's thrown only six passes in two preseason appearances and reps in practice are equally hard to come by for an undrafted free agent. Kubiak seems to praise Keenum every chance he gets. But that can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes, a coach heaps love on a hard worker he knows he's going to have to cut.
Beck has also only thrown six passes in the preseason. It's virtually impossible to say one's outperformed the other at this point.
In his ideal world, Kubiak would probably play Beck and Keenum each a half against the Vikings. But the overblown "struggles" of backup quarterback T.J. Yates in the last two preseason games (it's the exhibition season, sports radio callers — did you not watch Yates last season?) has the coach pondering giving Yates some time Thursday night as well.
It all adds up to a familiar situation for Keenum. Pressure on, small window.
He wasn't recruited much out of high school despite giant numbers. He was hardly targeted for greatness when he showed up on the University of Houston's campus. He went undrafted despite shattering a host of NCAA passing records.
Through it all, Keenum keeps throwing — and rising up rosters.
He'll never have less time to make a good impression than he does Thursday night though. Part of one game. One last, best chance.