Keenum The Starter

Fiery Case Keenum named Texans starting quarterback: "I've worked my whole life for this"

Fiery Case Keenum more than ready for 1st career NFL start with Texans

Case Keenum Texans smiling
Case Keenum always smiles when he's playing football. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Case Keenum slide
Case Keenum's mobility seems to make him a good fit for Gary Kubiak's offense. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup
Matt Schaub Gary Kubiak
Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak have been tied together for a long time. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
T.J. Yates passing
T.J. Yates owns the first playoff win in Houston Texans' franchise history. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Matt Schaub's foundation dinner April 2013 Kimberly Keenum, Case Keenum
Case Keenum and his wife Kimberly lean on their faith to keep themselves grounded. Photo by Russ Ross
Case Keenum Texans smiling
Case Keenum slide
Matt Schaub Gary Kubiak
T.J. Yates passing
Matt Schaub's foundation dinner April 2013 Kimberly Keenum, Case Keenum

Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown notices the difference whenever Case Keenum steps into the huddle. Keenum comes in beyond pumped, almost demanding that the rest of the offense matches his outward energy.

"He's a very fiery guy," Brown says. "You don't really see that at that position every often."

Receiver Andre Johnson — only the greatest Houston Texans player ever — puts it another way. "Case just sort of has like an aura about him," Johnson says.

Now, the rest of the NFL — and all those fierce Keenum doubters in the Houston media — are about to see it. For Texans coach Gary Kubiak named Keenum — the once longshot of longshots — the starting quarterback for Sunday's game at undefeated Kansas City. Kubiak's impressed enough with Keenum himself to end any suspense — or needlessly gamesmanship — early. Just a day ago, Kubiak said he'd likely let Keenum and the once assumed No. 2 T.J. Yates split practice reps till the end of the week and then make a final decision.

 "This isn’t the only week that I’ve worked. I’ve worked my whole life for this." 

But after sleeping on Keenum's Wednesday practice, Kubiak woke up and decided he'd seen enough. He ruled Matt Schaub out for Sunday's game with injury and then named Keenum the starter in a team meeting on Thursday.

CultureMap's been calling for the move since Schaub threw away the Seahawks game on Sept. 29 and Kubiak admits the 2-4 Texans "are looking for a spark" by inserting the University of Houston NCAA record breaker into the lineup. For Keenum, this represents a remarkable journey from getting completely snubbed in the 2012 NFL Draft to spending all of last season as a forgotten man on the Texans practice squad to watching the first six games of this season in sweats as an inactive third quarterback to . . . stepping under center as an NFL starter.

Of course, Keenum will remind you that the journey goes back much farther than that.

"It’s something that I’ve thought about for a long time, playing quarterback in the NFL and being able to start for a team," he says. "In that sense, it’s a dream I’ve had for a really long time. I haven’t just worked this week.

"This isn’t the only week that I’ve worked. I’ve worked my whole life for this."